WASHINGTON -- Mike Matheny is wearing a different hat -- only figuratively speaking -- in his newest role with the Cardinals, but the first-year skipper says playoff excitement remains the same as it was when he was playing for the Redbirds.
The 42-year-old manager has steered St. Louis to the postseason in his first year at the helm, after appearing in the playoffs four times during a 13-year playing career that included five seasons with the Cardinals.
"It is a great environment, and I love it just as much as a manager as I did as a player," Matheny said. "There's nothing like it in the game, to be able to be a part of postseason baseball."
Matheny was a four-time Gold Glove Award-winning catcher who helped lead the Cardinals to four National League Central titles -- and one NL pennant -- in five years from 2000-04.
He's had no shortage of excitement to manage the Cards through this year, as the club fought for the second and final NL Wild Card spot through the end of the regular season. That battle, Matheny says, has helped the team's mindset through the playoffs.
"He's done a great job of keeping us in the moment and not worrying about things outside of our control," starting pitcher Kyle Lohse said. "It's kind of really been a continuation of what we had last year with Tony [La Russa]. He's done a great job of handling the team, handling the pressure, knowing what comes along, that [the media is] going to second-guess a lot of things. He stays true to himself and does what he believes needs to be done."