BALTIMORE -- Though it would finish as a footnote in Saturday's 10-3 loss to the Orioles, Daniel Descalso, making his first start since July 6, reached base four times and tallied three hits.
Manager Mike Matheny has twice recently described Descalso's role as "unfair," noting that the Cardinals' expectation that the he can stay sharp amid sporadic playing time is an unrealistic task. Descalso has grown used to being an infield nomad of sorts, never entering the season as an everyday player, but often filling in at various positions when needed.
The reduction in playing time this season, though, has been sharp.
"It's been tough," Descalso said. "I've just been trying to stay positive and keep working to give myself a chance when I do get opportunities. I feel like I've done an OK job pinch-hitting. The starts have been few and far between, but it's nice to go out there and get a few hits with the chance to play today."
Even as a part-time player over the last three seasons, Descalso accrued at least 326 at-bats by the end of each year. He won't hit that figure this year, as Saturday's three pushed his season total to 101.
The Cardinals' commitment to Jhonny Peralta and Matt Carpenter as starters on the left side of the infield, and the additions of Kolten Wong and Mark Ellis at second base, has squeezed Descalso out of an opportunity.
Matheny has encouraged Descalso, who is batting .198 with a .257 on-base percentage, to evaluate his performance by quality of at-bats, not results. For Descalso, though, that's not easily put into practice.
"Numbers matter in this game," he said. "That's what we're all judged on. You want to go out there and put up numbers. Right now, I'm trying to get in a good frame of mind up there at the plate and in the field, and just go out and compete. I think that's all I can do right now.
"Obviously, it hasn't been what I expected of myself. But at the same time, I have to realize that the opportunities haven't really been there. I just have to make the most of them and try to stay positive and keep working hard, and when I do get a chance, go up there and have a good at-bat."
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.