Cardinals notes: Beltran's health, bullpen updates, etc.

October 21, 2012, 10:36 pm
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SAN FRANCISCO -- Carlos Beltran's status is a fickle thing. He can go from "one hundred percent healthy" directly to the clubhouse without seemingly injuring anything.

In playoff baseball, you look for absolutes, but at the veteran age of 35 and nursing a history of knee and hand problems, Beltran won't give them to you. He's in tune with his body and pro-active on the injury front, as evidenced by his early exit in Game 3. But one thing is certain -- he's in the lineup for Game 6.

NEWS: Game 6 lineups

"I salute him and our medical staff for getting really ahead of this," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "And hopefully we'll be able to keep riding this out and it doesn't flare up again."

Beltran is 4-for-12 (.333) this series with one home run and two doubles. He is the all-time leader among playoff hitters (minimum 100 at-bats), batting .371 over 32 playoff games.

Adam Wainwright, who started Game 4 for the Cardinals Thursday in St. Louis, won't be available out of the bullpen for Matheny in Game 6. Wainwright is two days removed from his 96-pitch, seven-inning outing that earned him the win in St. Louis.

Wainwright, 31, served as the Cardinals' closer during their 2006 playoff run that culminated in a World Series title. Wainwright appeared in nine playoff games that year, recording four saves and a win without allowing a run.

Still, Matheny isn't concerned about his stable of late-inning arms.

"Right now we're excited about what we have today and have a bullpen that had a full day off yesterday and ready to go," Matheny said. "So we've got plenty of arms down there."

The closing responsibilities will be reserved for Jason Motte and his beard.

Motte, 30, owns all 45 of the Cardinals' saves his year, including three this postseason. He became the third player in MLB history to record a perfect save of two or more innings when he shut the door in the eighth and ninth innings of Game 3, joining Mariano Rivera and Byung-Hyun Kim.

The Cardinals are inching their way toward a dynasty. They have now been a part of seven of the past 12 Nationals League Championship Series, and are vying for their third World Series title over that span.

What makes them so good? If you ask Matheny, it's the strength of all facets of the organization that sets the stage for their players to shine.

"I absolutely give a lot of credit to our development system," Matheny said. "And even a step ahead of that is our scouting staff and bringing in some guys who have the stuff that's pretty visible, but also the makeup to handle a situation like this. I think they start to preach to them a pretty consistent message, one, of the way they're supposed to go about things when they wear this uniform; and, two, the fact that we're not afraid to use a young pitcher if he can make an impact on our club.And we've done that for years.

"The guys have been thrown into big situations and have delivered. So it's been something that's worked in the past and is working right now."

Game 6 starter Chris Carpenter is the old man on the staff at age 37. Kyle Lohse is right behind him at age 34. Wainwright 31. Motte 30. And the rest of the hurlers are in their 20s, and in a number of cases, their younger 20s.

Here is the Cardinals' collection of bullpen arms, and their time walking the earth:

41 -- Mitchell Boggs -- 28 years, 8.2 months
44 -- Edward Mujica -- 28 years, 5.4 months
59 -- Fernando Salas -- 27 years, 4.7 months
34 -- Marc Rzepczynski (L) -- 27 years, 1.8 months
58 -- Joe Kelly -- 24 years, 4.4 months
64 -- Trevor Rosenthal -- 22 years, 4.8 months
40 -- Shelby Miller -- 22 years, .4 months

No word on which Cardinal would start a potential Game 7, though it would be Kyle Lohse's turn in the four-man playoff rotation.

The Cardinals opted to send relief pitchers Joe Kelly and Trevor Rosenthal to the media availability normally reserved for the next day's starter. Matt Cain spoke for the Giants.

If there is a Game 7, Matheny would be required to name his man and make him available to the media.

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