Cards plotting their DH plans for AL parks

Cards plotting their DH plans for AL parks

ST. LOUIS -- Other than being matched up with some less familiar opponents, the Cardinals' Interleague schedule has forced little change in game and roster management thus far. That will change next week, when they play their first games of 2012 in American League parks.

A three-game series in Detroit, followed by another in Kansas City, will give manager Mike Matheny the task of including a designated hitter in his lineup for the next six games. Matheny said he intends to vary which players he uses as a DH, seeing it as an opportunity to give veteran players a break from playing defense, while keeping their bats in the lineup.

"Just basically looking at how guys are feeling," Matheny said. "I think the time off defensively will still help in the long run."

Allen Craig, Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday are among those who Matheny listed as probable DH candidates.

The Cardinals have historically gotten above-average production from the DH spot since Interleague Play began in 1997. That spot has produced a .314 batting average, 24 doubles, 22 homers and 88 RBIs in 436 at-bats.