Cardinals Notebook: Holliday update

MILWAUKEE – Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday was out of the starting lineup for Wednesday afternoon’s series finale with the Milwaukee Brewers after being hit by a pitch in the thigh on Tuesday night.

Holliday, who had started 87 of the Cardinals’ 91 games entering Wednesday, briefly stayed in the game Tuesday after Randy Wolf drilled him just above his left knee in the first inning. He took his position in the field for the bottom of the first but was removed when the Cardinals took the field in the second.

The Cardinals described the injury as a left thigh contusion. Holliday said following the game that he hoped to play Wednesday but a morning workout didn’t eliminate the soreness he dealt with the night before.

“He showed up this morning and put it through a good test and tried to get it going, but he was sore,” said manager Mike Matheny.

Holliday has been the Cardinals hottest hitter of late. He’s batting .439 (43-for-98) in 26 games since June 16 and has 12 doubles, 24 RBI and 17 runs scored during that span.

The All-Star is hitting .317 with 14 home runs and 59 RBI overall, making his omission from the lineup a tough blow to a struggling Cardinals offense.

“You can’t forget about how durable he’s been,” Matheny said. “He’s had some days where he’s banged up and he keeps going out there, so when you have a day where he’s really fighting to make it happen and not getting a lot of relief, you have to help him out. He deserves it.”

Holliday was unavailable to reporters Wednesday morning. The Cardinals are off Thursday before opening a weekend series with the Chicago Cubs at Busch Stadium on Friday night.

Beltran sits again: Carlos Beltran was also out of Wednesday’s starting lineup, his second rest in the past three days.

Manager Mike Matheny said Beltran has continued to look sluggish following the switch-hitters participation in the All-Star Game and Home Run

“You can still see that he’s getting better and close, but he’s still tired,” Matheny said. “I think the All-Star Game, he was pushing really hard to that point for us and didn’t get much of a break when he got there, so it’s part of the sacrifice.”

Beltran is hitting .290 with 20 home runs and a league-leading 66 RBI in 87 games this season. But he hasn’t homered since June 24 and is hitting just .163 in July.

The veteran has just three hits in 17 at-bats since the All-Star break and has one RBI in his last eight games.

“We showed up today and we’ve done this in the past too, where we had a plan and his body just responds way better than he thought and he says, ‘Hey, listen, I really feel good today,’ and today wasn’t one of those days,” Matheny said. “He’s doing everything he can and we knew this going into the season that it was going to be a situation where we needed him to be an honest evaluator of how he feels.

“For us to get him to finish like he started, we’re going to have to use days like this as hard as they are not to write his name in the lineup.”

Asked where Beltran felt the most tired or was having issues, Matheny said, “I don’t even make him go there. It’s just day-to-day, tell me what you think. I’ve got a pretty good pulse when he tells me. You can tell. His answer is almost always, ‘I’m ready to go,’ but we can see it. I just can’t help but believe that it’s going to pay dividends for him in the long run, which is going to pay dividends for us.”

Rosenthal still waiting: Rookie Trevor Rosenthal is still waiting for his first game action since being called up from Double-A on Monday.

Manager Mike Matheny said he’d like to get the hard-throwing right-hander into a game as soon as possible, but the situation has to present itself. The Cardinals would like to let him pitch in a less-crucial situation at first to get his feet wet.

“Take the baseball side out and put the human side back in, and this guy has been looking for this day for a long time and I’m excited for him to experience that,” Matheny said. “But first and foremost is the baseball side and a game like last night is not necessarily the situation.

“But I’ll tell you this, we toyed with it, letting him pitch in a one-run game, but generally it’s not the scenario that we’d like to get him exposed to the league.”

Of note: Matheny said he had no problem with third base coach Jose Oquendo’s decision to hold David Freese at third base on Yadier Molina’s single with no outs in the ninth inning of Tuesday night’s 3-2 loss. He also said had Freese still been at second base with one out, he would have used pitcher Jake Westbrook as a pinch-runner. Once Freese got to third, he kept him in the game because he preferred to have the more experienced base runner to read balls in the dirt and off the bat and was willing to sacrifice the difference in speed.