WASHINGTON -- Having helped navigate Lance Lynn through seven scoreless innings in his start on Monday, Tony Cruz returned as Lynn's batterymate in Saturday's outing against the Nationals.
These two starts are Cruz's only ones through the first 18 games of the season. Last season, the club went 14-14 when he was behind the plate. On Monday, he caught the team's second shutout of the season.
"I thought [Lynn] and Tony had a nice feel for what was working for him that particular day against that particular lineup," Matheny said. "It's always going to be an adjustment because each lineup has a different approach to every starter."
In addition to wanting to keep that rapport between Lynn and Cruz rolling, Matheny said he has been looking for opportunities to rest starting catcher Yadier Molina while the Cardinals wade through a stretch of 20 games in 20 days. Having a day game following Friday's night game played into that decision to make this one of those days off.
Cards coy about upcoming pitching plans
WASHINGTON -- The Cardinals have settled on a starter for Monday's series opener against the Mets, but manager Mike Matheny said on Saturday that the team is not yet ready to announce its choice.
Every indication is still that the organization will summon starting help from Triple-A Memphis -- rather than unplugging Carlos Martinez from the bullpen -- and that spot starter will join the club in New York on the day of his start. That would be Tyler Lyons' next scheduled day to pitch for Memphis, making him a likely candidate to slide into the big league rotation for an injured Joe Kelly.
The Cardinals will need a minimum of two starts from another fifth starter while Kelly recovers from a left hamstring strain. He won't be eligible to come off the disabled list until May 2 at the earliest.
Asked why the organization was not yet comfortable announcing its pitching plans, Matheny cited the potential for distraction. In calling up a pitcher from Triple-A, the club will have to make a corresponding roster move. The expectation is that one of the two relievers brought up on Thursday -- Eric Fornataro or Jorge Rondon -- will be the one sent out to create that space.
"I don't want them to look over their shoulders," Matheny said. "I just want them to worry about playing and not having a plan already in place. I just don't see the necessity of it. Now, I understand the fact that the Mets need to know and we'll give them that information as soon as we can. But we need to make sure we're doing what's right for our club, our guys, first."
Garcia, Motte have good rehab outings
WASHINGTON -- Jaime Garcia threw two scoreless innings and Jason Motte one during an extended spring training game on Saturday. Both players have remained in Jupiter, Fla., after Spring Training to continue their respective rehab programs.
For Garcia, this marked his first game appearance since May 17, 2013. He underwent season-ending surgery soon after that outing and had a setback to his throwing program in February that precluded him from appearing in any Grapefruit League games. After recovering from bursitis in his left shoulder this spring, Garcia resumed throwing off the mound in late March and pitched in a simulated game setting earlier this week.
Facing Mets hitters on Saturday, Garcia allowed one hit, did not walk a batter and struck out three over two innings.
Motte has been pitching in extended spring training games for a few weeks now, but Saturday's appearance marked his first with only a day of rest between outings. He allowed one hit in his inning of work on Saturday.
Motte, who is 11 months removed from Tommy John surgery, should soon be cleared to begin a Minor League rehab assignment. That would allow him to face tougher competition and put him a step closer to returning to St. Louis.
• Outfielder Stephen Piscotty went 3-for-5 in Triple-A Memphis' loss on Friday and now has three straight multi-hit games and four consecutive games with at least one extra-base hit. Catcher Audry Perez is riding a six-game hitting streak, and Greg Garcia leads the club with four homers.
• Shortstop Aledmys Diaz drilled his second Double-A home run in Springfield's 9-5 win on Friday. The two-run shot was Diaz's only hit in five at-bats. Designated hitter Curt Smith finished with a three-hit game.
• The Cardinals' eight-game winning streak against the Nationals, which was snapped on Friday, goes down as their longest winning streak against the Montreal/Washington franchise.
• Fan voting for the 2014 Cardinals Hall of Fame class will end at 11:59 p.m. CT on Tuesday. Of the eight nominees on the fan ballot, two will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this summer as a part of its inaugural class.
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.