Cardinals look for spark after manager’s shock firing
ST. LOUIS (AP) — As the St. Louis Cardinals took stock of their situation a day after the firing of manager Mike Matheny, some players said they bear some responsibility for Matheny’s sudden dismissal.
Matheny was fired Saturday night after an 8-2 loss to the last-place Cincinnati Reds. The Cardinals entered Sunday’s game one game over .500 and 7½ games behind the NL Central-leading Chicago Cubs and are in danger of missing the playoffs for a third straight season for the first time since 1999.
“We all feel bad for Mike and ultimately it comes down on us,” veteran infielder Jedd Gyorko said Sunday. “We’re the guys that go out there and play and perform. I feel like we haven’t done that good enough.”
Bench coach Mike Shildt will serve as interim manager, starting with Sunday’s final game before the All-Star break.
“As a player, for me, it’s like, ‘What could I have done better to keep this from happening?’” reliever Greg Holland said. “I don’t know if it’s necessarily fair. It’s just the way the world works.”
The Cardinals’ recent mediocrity simply isn’t something the franchise is used to. Owner William DeWitt Jr. said a change was necessary to put the team in position for another playoff run.
“It’s not like we were 20 games under .500 and desperate,” DeWitt said. “We haven’t played to our capabilities. It just didn’t seem to be happening. It was a logical time to make a change.”
The 47-year-old Matheny was a Gold Glove-winning catcher for St. Louis from 2000-04. He compiled a 591-474 record in his six-plus seasons, reaching the postseason in each of his first four years while compiling a 375-273 mark. The 2013 team lost in the World Series to the Boston Red Sox.
The Cardinals were 216-201 in his final two-plus campaigns.
“It was an aggregate of where we are,” president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said. “Two steps forward, two steps back. We’re not going where we needed to go. You have to do something different.”
St. Louis has dropped its last six home games, including back-to-back losses to Cincinnati. Hitting coaches John Mabry and Bill Mueller were dismissed along with Matheny.
“Having a new voice, a fresh voice is important as we look to the second half of the season,” Mozeliak said.
This was the Cardinals’ first in-season managerial change since Joe Torre was replaced by Mike Jorgensen in 1995.
Shildt managed for eight years in the Cardinals’ minor league organization. He captured league titles with Johnson City (2010-2011) and Double-A Springfield (2012) and most recently managed Memphis in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League in 2016.
The 49-year-old has been part of the organization since 2004.
“I’ve got a passion for what (winning) looks like,” Shildt said. “The biggest thing is about being more consistent. ... There’s a lot of things that are positive and we need to get back to that mindset.”
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