PITTSBURGH -- Cardinals manager Mike Matheny estimates that he suffered 25-30 concussions during his playing career, most of those the result of contact during collisions he sustained at home plate.
Though his career was cut short because of the side effects of concussions, Matheny never regretted playing the position the way he did. Standing in and taking the impact of a hit was, as Matheny saw it, his job.
It was also Matheny's job as a catching instructor in the Cardinals' organization to teach players how to take those hits.
"I know the value of that play," he said. "It saves a run, but it goes deeper than that."
But a change in position has produced a change in perspective. And after watching Yadier Molina come off the field woozy, achy and suffering from a neck strain following a hit put on him by incoming runner Josh Harrison on Tuesday night, Matheny doesn't see the play as he used to.
"As a manager, I'd like to take those [earlier] thoughts and flush them, because I watch our catcher -- and how valuable a piece he is to us -- get trucked like that, and it's hard to watch," Matheny said. "I see why [Giants manager] Bruce Bochy is very outspoken about, 'Let's start making it mandatory to avoid that collision.' The game may go that way, especially with the heightened awareness of concussions and people understanding that it's not just a concussion, it's a brain injury.
Bochy became vocal about home-plate collisions last season, shortly after his own catcher, Buster Posey, suffered a season-ending leg injury while trying to block the plate. Afterward, Bochy, a former catcher, spoke out about the need to alter the rules so that baserunners would not be allowed to run directly into catchers.
He has since also directed Posey not to block the plate, even if it means sacrificing a run.
"Is there something that could be done? Probably," Matheny said. "And it's probably only been in the last six months that I've changed my viewpoint on it."
Day after collision, Matheny holds club meeting
PITTSBURGH -- Shortly before players and staff began their regular pregame work, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny gathered everyone together inside the visitors' clubhouse for what he later described as "a quick talk."
The message of the meeting, though kept between those in attendance, had to do with how the team would respond to the events of Tuesday's 9-0 loss to the Pirates. Emotions were running high between the two clubs on Tuesday after Josh Harrison knocked Yadier Molina out of the game in a collision at home plate. Later in the night, Cardinals starter Jake Westbrook hit Harrison with a pitch.
That prompted home-plate umpire Adrian Johnson to issue warnings to both teams.
The Pirates disagreed with Johnson's decision to issue warnings. Across the diamond, several Cardinal players expressed their displeasure for the way in which Harrison initiated contact with Molina. Harrison's left elbow went at Molina's head.
"It just applies to everything and, in general, last night probably would have been the time to have the conversation," Matheny said, when asked about the purpose of the meeting. "But I'm smart enough to know when your emotions are flying high, you usually are giving great speeches that you regret. Today was a great day for everybody to slow down, to talk and then to move forward playing great baseball."
Matheny said he and Pirates manager Clint Hurdle had not talked since Tuesday, though they do talk from time to time during the season.
Hurdle, too, was asked about the potential for any carryover from Tuesday's game.
"If we go out and don't play well today, where's the fire?" Hurdle said. "You like to think it heightened your intensity, maybe put a little more bounce in your step. I have seen it happen. I've also seen the team that thinks it's been violated try to respond -- most of what happens tonight will be based on what happens on the mound."
Cardinals sending eight players to AFL
PITTSBURGH -- The Cardinals will send eight players, including Kolten Wong, their first-round pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, to participate in the Arizona Fall League this offseason. Rosters for all six AFL clubs were announced on Wednesday.
Joining Wong on the Surprise Saguaros roster will be pitchers Seth Blair, Sam Freeman, Kevin Siegrist and Boone Whiting; catcher Cody Stanley; outfielder Mike O'Neill; and infielder/outfielder Colin Walsh. Walsh has been placed on the taxi squad, meaning that he can only play on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Also representing the Cardinals in the AFL will be Class A Quad Cities hitting coach Joe Kruzel. He'll hold the same coaching position with the Saguaros.
For Whiting and Stanley, the chance to play in Arizona will allow the two to make up for time missed during the regular season.
Stanley opened the year by serving a 50-game suspension for violating the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. As of Wednesday, he had played in only 45 games this season. Whiting spent much of the season limited by a shoulder injury and has only made seven starts in 2012.
The AFL season opens on Oct. 9, and play will culminate with the championship game on Nov. 19.
Right-hander Chris Carpenter bounced back well from his 40-pitch bullpen session on Tuesday. Carpenter felt good enough to play catch on Wednesday, and he is scheduled to return to the mound for another side session Friday in Washington D.C.
Carpenter has not pitched this season and is in the process of recovering from neurogenic thoracic outlet surgery.
Lance Berkman (right knee soreness) went 1-for-4 with Triple-A Memphis on Tuesday. It was the fourth game Berkman has played in his Minor League rehab assignment. Berkman has two hits in 13 at-bats.
The Cardinals are set to be featured on NBC Sports Network's "Caught Looking" series at 8 p.m. CT on Thursday. The episode will show footage collected when camera crews were embedded with the Cardinals during their recent series in Cincinnati.
The Cardinals' series against the Nationals, which begins on Thursday, marks the first matchup between the two clubs this year. St. Louis will draw Stephen Strasburg (15-6, 3.05 ERA) in the four-game set.
Strasburg will start Sunday's series finale against Jake Westbrook. The Nationals' will start former Cardinal Edwin Jackson (7-9, 3.72) in Thursday's series opener. Gio Gonzalez (16-7, 3.28 ERA) and Jordan Zimmermann (9-8, 2.63) will pitch the middle two games.
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.