Reserves get key at-bats on Cardinals' off-day

Reserves get key at-bats on Cardinals' off-day

Reserves get key at-bats on Cardinals' off-day
ST. LOUIS -- Jake Westbrook threw a simulated game at Busch Stadium on Tuesday afternoon, and nominally it was to benefit the rehabbing right-hander. In reality, it was also a real help to a number of his teammates.

The Cardinals' bench players took their hacks at Westbrook, offering them a much-needed chance to see some pitching. St. Louis' reserves have played very little this postseason. Among players not in the everyday lineup, Skip Schumaker has the most plate appearances, with six. Matt Carpenter has five, Shane Robinson four, Adron Chambers one and Tony Cruz has yet to bat.

Those five, plus Lance Berkman, got some swings against Westbrook in the afternoon. The hope is that while it's not game experience, it will help the players get ready for what could be critical at-bats. Carpenter and Schumaker, two key contributors in the season, are 1-for-11 in the playoffs.

"Matt's a great weapon for us," said manager Mike Matheny. "And also the time of his use goes along with his flexibility defensively. You've got to look at Skip Schumaker the same way, but being able to put a Matt Carpenter in as a double switch late in the game if we have to do that to keep our closer in, that goes into play of when we can use him."