Mike Matheny on Cardinals mindset: “The thing that you should be concerned about is complacency. These guys aren’t taking anything for granted.”

February 23, 2012 – 8:00 am by Steven Cuce

Mike Matheny has never held a managerial or coaching position in the majors. He hasn’t even held a coaching position in the minors, yet he now finds himself replacing a legend as the St.Louis Cardinals new manager.

The Cards feel like a completely different team from the one that went on a fairy tale run to take home the World Series crown due to the departure of Albert Pujols and the retirement of Tony La Russa. Mike Matheny hasn’t seen any change in his team, however, and has an optimistic view for a fresh start in spring training.

Mike Matheny joined KFNS in St.Louis with the Press Box to discuss his spring training plan, players in spring training approaching him about getting a day off, the number of pitchers he wants to come out of spring training with, Skip Schumaker’s status as the starting second baseman and the Cardinals not being complacent in spring training.

Who did you look to model your spring training after?

“As far as the routine? As you know part of the routine is you gotta get your legs underneath you. As far as who and where I put this thing together? I was just smart enough to keep a close track and actually keep a lot of the forms that I had when I was a player in the organization as to how spring training’s went and had those archived and kind of went back through those and picked out things that I liked except picks up things that I saw were extremely helpful for the guys and really the goal is efficiency. I think you have hit on that as how I can we make each day go as seamlessly as possible? Get them their work in and not keep them out here all day and get them home with their families and on with the rest of their lives. We put together a pretty great plan and Mike Aldrete has done a terrific job in helping me put this stuff together. We have been planning for months now, so I have been excited to implement and put it into play.”

Are you going to let the veterans come to you or are you going to go to them to see when they need a day off?

“I’m pretty proactive in starting those conversations early on and I don’t have time and I don’t have enough experience as you guys know to sit and wait to see how it plays out. I rather go and be honest up front and say, ‘Listen I am going to need your help. I am going to need your help to go back through your career and realize why you were at your best and what did that look like playing time wise?’Those are conversations we have already had. Some of the veterans guys deserve that kind of respect and to talk about really helping me help you in regard to what kind of playing time is optimal for you and your performance and past. You have to pay attention to what your body is saying along the way.”

Do you have a point on how many pitchers you are coming out of spring training with?

“Yeah still waiting to see how everyone looks. I think you don’t want to get too far ahead of yourself. You want to see how guys are progressing and if you have any question marks at all and obviously the one that is getting the most attention is Adam [Wainwright] and his elbow and everything is looking really good right now. If things are changing there, if there is any hiccup along the way, which nobody anticipates any, then you are going to have to ask somebody that is going to be able to go a little bit longer and possible someone else to get in and start. You kind of have to watch the whole thing and see how it develops before you make those decisions.”

Is Skip Schumaker a viable option at second base?

“I think everybody is going to get their opportunity to play. I think you are going to see a lot of them play different positions and to pigeon hole it on way or another right now is premature and to try to figure out exactly how that plays out? To me I believe all of these guys are fighting for their jobs. I am not trying to underscore your question, but that’s how I think guys should be going about this. I think guys should be going about this as everybody is trying to win their position every day and then we just try to figure out what the best 25 to collect and what the best collection of 25 players is that makes us the best possible team and what that looks like when it is all said and done without having too many ideas ahead of time.”

You certainly have an advantage as far as last year goes. I think the team understands the bigger picture:

“There’s no question about it. The thing that you should be concerned about is complacency, but guys don’t know what they did last year and there is so much excitement and so much just all the hype that has gone in to what they were able to accomplish and sometimes you can think we have been there and done that. I’ve never seen a group of guys want to show up as early as they have and just have an edge to them and it’s hard to explain. Once you get down here they’ll see it. These guys aren’t taking anything for granted and you can see…I don’t know maybe part of it is they want to prove to people that there has been a lot of change, but they were pretty good and they had a lot to do with the success from last year as well. I think another part of that is guys stepping into different roles even though they may have been everyday players, they may have more of a leadership role, more of an ownership to what is going on, so there is different dynamics going on here, but it is a extremely positive atmosphere at this point.”

Listen to Mike Matheny on KFNS in St.Louis here

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