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Furcal stays put at leadoff; Schu in two-hole

DETROIT -- Despite consideration given to moving Rafael Furcal down in the lineup, manager Mike Matheny continues to put the slumping shortstop in the leadoff spot, maintaining that he believes Furcal "is close" to being back on track.

While waiting for Furcal to find his footing, though, Matheny is looking for other ways to spark the top of the lineup. On Wednesday, that led to putting Skip Schumaker in the two-hole. Schumaker, who was activated off the disabled list on Tuesday, is hitting .310 this season.

Since racing out to a .370 batting average through the team's first 37 games, Furcal has cooled considerably. There has been correlation between his downturn and the Cardinals, too. After going 22-15 through those first 37 games, the Cardinals have a record of 12-19 since. During that span, Furcal has hit just .176.

He's scored 14 runs in the last 30 games after scoring 28 times in the team's first 37. His on-base percentage sat at .433 on May 16. Since then, it's .213.

"I know I'm struggling, but mentally, I'm positive," Furcal said. "I know I'll come back. The best thing for me is to stay healthy and get better."

The Cardinals are 20-12 this year in games Furcal has scored at least once. In other words, the Cardinals go largely as Furcal goes. And it's not been going well for either lately.

"There's no question that's been a big part of our offense when we've been successful," Matheny said. "We think about [moving him down in the lineup], but we also realize that the success we've had with this team early on was in big part due to what he's able to do at the top and the faith we put into him in that leadoff spot."

DETROIT -- Despite consideration given to moving Rafael Furcal down in the lineup, manager Mike Matheny continues to put the slumping shortstop in the leadoff spot, maintaining that he believes Furcal "is close" to being back on track.

While waiting for Furcal to find his footing, though, Matheny is looking for other ways to spark the top of the lineup. On Wednesday, that led to putting Skip Schumaker in the two-hole. Schumaker, who was activated off the disabled list on Tuesday, is hitting .310 this season.

Since racing out to a .370 batting average through the team's first 37 games, Furcal has cooled considerably. There has been correlation between his downturn and the Cardinals, too. After going 22-15 through those first 37 games, the Cardinals have a record of 12-19 since. During that span, Furcal has hit just .176.

He's scored 14 runs in the last 30 games after scoring 28 times in the team's first 37. His on-base percentage sat at .433 on May 16. Since then, it's .213.

"I know I'm struggling, but mentally, I'm positive," Furcal said. "I know I'll come back. The best thing for me is to stay healthy and get better."

The Cardinals are 20-12 this year in games Furcal has scored at least once. In other words, the Cardinals go largely as Furcal goes. And it's not been going well for either lately.

"There's no question that's been a big part of our offense when we've been successful," Matheny said. "We think about [moving him down in the lineup], but we also realize that the success we've had with this team early on was in big part due to what he's able to do at the top and the faith we put into him in that leadoff spot."

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.