Holliday scratched with lower back tightness

Veteran, listed as day to day, was scheduled to make spring debut at first base

March 5th, 2016

JUPITER, Fla. -- Matt Holliday's debut start at first base will have to wait at least another day.

The Cardinals announced shortly before the start of Saturday's 3-2 win over the Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium that Holliday was being scratched from the starting lineup because of lower back tightness. The team did not say what caused the tightness, only that the move to scratch the slugger was precautionary.

Holliday participated in the pregame warmups on one of the back fields behind Roger Dean Stadium and had been penciled as the first baseman and in the No. 3 slot in manager Mike Matheny's starting lineup for the game. Jonathan Rodriguez replaced Holliday at first base and batted ninth. It also was to be Holliday's first Grapefruit League appearance this spring.

After the game, Matheny said he approached Holliday after batting practice.

"During BP I was watching him. I could see he was holding back a little bit," Matheny said. "Just decided it was best to hold off a little bit. Just intermittent thing. This happens just about every season he's ever had."

Matheny said that Holliday's status is "day to day" and he's unsure when he will play next.

Matheny spent the bulk of his daily pregame meeting with reporters talking about Holliday making his first start at first base. The 36-year-old veteran slugger has been the Cardinals' regular left fielder during his seven years in St. Louis, but he approached Matheny during the offseason with the idea of possibly giving first base a try during Spring Training.

"He and I talked way back in the winter, and he said, 'Would you see any benefit in me playing first base?'" Matheny said. "And I said, 'Let's just be honest. I mean, that's an extra tool we have in our tool box, it's an extra tool you have in your tool box, where as you move forward in your career, I don't see how it can be anything but positive.'"

Matheny said that he made it clear to Holliday that he didn't want him to think that the Cardinals were forcing him to try the potential switch to first base.

Holliday, who played in only 73 games last season because of a right quad injury, didn't wait until camp opened to begin workouts at first, and he was regularly working out at the Roger Dean complex in Jupiter in December.

"If this is something that you believe you can do, something that you would like to work at, I don't see anything but positives," Matheny told Holliday. "Everything has gone very well, and he is actually enjoying it. ... I waited and waited, and he and I have conversations all the time, but we didn't necessarily have conversations about first base. So finally, he came up and said, 'Well, what do you think?' I was like, 'Man, I've been waiting for you. You tell me, what do you think?' And he goes, 'You know, I like it, and if you need me to do that, I think it's something I can do.'"