PITTSBURGH -- Seeking a way to spark Allen Craig at the plate, manager Mike Matheny dropped his usual cleanup hitter into the sixth spot of the lineup Sunday. With Craig's timing still a tick off, though, the shuffle did not produce immediate dividends.
The Cardinals' right fielder finished 0-for-3, leaving him 2-for-22 on this opening road trip. Craig said afterward that he is continuing to watch video of himself to try to make the necessary adjustments to get back the timing he felt he had coming out of Spring Training.
"I feel OK," Craig said. "Obviously, it's not the ideal start for me personally. Six games into the year and there's a lot of good baseball to be played. I'm looking forward to that. I'm working through some things and going to make some adjustments and just get better. I feel OK."
Craig had one hit taken away by the Pirates' defense shifting, something Pittsburgh does more aggressively than most teams. Craig rarely sees a shift employed against him elsewhere.
Craig didn't get off to an exceptionally quick start last year, either. He opened the 2013 season with eight hits in his first 38 at-bats. He didn't hit his first home run until his 28th game of the season.
"He had a pretty good spring and is just now having trouble finding a rhythm," Matheny said. "He'll get there. He's expanding a little more than he normally does. It looks like they're making good pitches on him, too. … He's a very, very good hitter. He just has to trust himself and he'll come around."
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.Less