CINCINNATI -- Matt Carpenter had strict orders to show up on time to the ballpark on Saturday.
"He had a stiff fine coming his way if he had gotten here any earlier," said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny.
Carpenter, known to arrive to the facility hours in advance of many of his teammates, is mired in a 1-for-29 funk that has dropped his average to .304 from .325 over the last week. Matheny met with the All-Star second baseman immediately following an 0-for-6 showing in Friday's win and told him to take a step back, take the day off on Saturday and take his mind off of baseball.
In addition to keeping Carpenter out of Saturday's lineup, Matheny told the 27-year-old not to man the infield during batting practice.
"It's a huge learning opportunity," Matheny said. "It's a huge chance for him to figure out what he has to do to bounce back from it. It's going to happen again if he stays in this game as long as I think he's going to. He's going to continue to have to figure out ways to right the ship and it usually comes from hard work and from knowing when to slow down and back off."
After replacing Pete Kozma in the sixth inning of Saturday's 8-3 loss to the Reds, Carpenter continued to struggle, going 0-for-2 with an RBI groundout. Carpenter has not tallied a hit in his last five games, his longest such streak this season.
"He's such a grinder," Matheny said. "The guy loves this game, loves this team and is just relentless in his work ethic. But right now, he just really needs to slow down and it'll all come back."