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Matheny: Days off not a factor behind stifled offense

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CINCINNATI -- Despite scoring one run in their first 18 innings this season, the Cardinals are not pointing to the lack of recent game play as contributing factor to the slow offensive start.

Heading into Thursday, the Cardinals had played just twice since wrapping up Grapefruit League play a week ago. An exhibition game in Memphis was rained out, and the team had three scheduled days off in Cincinnati. Adding to the down time was a near three-hour delay on Wednesday and a lengthy rain delay on Thursday.

"You don't expect to have delays and rainouts right from the top," Matheny said. "And you have to keep coming back to the fact that this kid, [Tony] Cingrani, gave us a lot of trouble last year, even when the guys were playing every day for a long part of the season. And [Johnny] Cueto, the way he was throwing the ball, he's going to give anybody fits. There are just going to be those days where you have to scratch and claw, and they scratched a little better than we did [Wednesday]."

Matheny also made the point that many of his starting position players were not playing in games daily for most of Spring Training.

The Cardinals have held workouts on two of the three off-days and have offered hitters extra time in the batting cages for those who would like to take additional swings.

"I think we have more of the guys still looking and still searching a little bit," Matheny said. "But overall, going in there and swinging yourself silly doesn't normally equate into productivity."

The Cardinals were not sour about the delayed start on Wednesday, Matheny said, preferring to start the game late rather than reschedule it for later in the season. They were also aware of ominous forecasts for Thursday and did not want to run the risk of having consecutive games postponed.

"We want to play. I want to watch these guys go," Matheny said. "It's been like having this caged animal that I couldn't watch take off and do their thing. We've been reigning them, letting them go, reigning them in. I just want to watch them run."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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