PHOENIX — The Cardinals’ ongoing intent to synthesize a hitting philosophy that starts with hitting coach Jeff Albert in the majors and permeates the entire organization led them to hire a new hitting coordinator for the minor leagues. Russ Steinhorn, last with the Phillies, has joined the Cardinals and will coordinate with Albert to oversee the hitting approach throughout the minors.
The Cardinals recently notified George Greer, a longtime hitting guru and Hall of Fame college coach, that his contract would not be renewed for the 2020 season. Greer joins dismissed hitting coach Mark “Buddha” Budaska as two wizened and longtime members of the team’s hitting instruction let go this season.
“We’re trying to unify voices,” president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said.
Steinhorn spent a year as an assistant hitting coordinator for the Phillies, and between that role and managing Houston’s Low-A affiliate he worked for Clemson’s baseball program in player development. Steinhorn and Albert overlapped in the Astros’ organization, where Steinhorn spent three seasons as a hitting coach and a manager in 2016 and 2017.
“One of the things about building a hitting approach and having Albert oversee this A-to-Z model, this bottom-to-top, top-to-bottom consistency, is that we needed to find someone to complement him,” Mozeliak said. “That will allows us to be more aggressive teaching the teachers.”
C-MART RESPONDS TO THE PUSH
After appearing on four consecutive days for the second time in his career, Carlos Martinez was unavailable to the Cardinals on Sunday and ready for the inevitable Monday. With six games remaining in the regular season and a schedule that will no longer have them playing on four consecutive days, Martinez and lefty Andrew Miller expect to be used aggressively as long as the Cardinals have not clinched the division title.
“Look, we know we’ve got to push guys a little bit,” manager Mike Shildt said. “We have to still be responsible. … (Martinez) has been a big part of what we do. He’s valuable for a lot of reasons. The durability factor is a big part of it. The ability to want the baseball and go out and compete is very important.”
With Miller’s save Sunday, the Cardinals’ relievers have combined for 51 saves, the most in the majors this season. Martinez and Jordan Hicks, who injured elbow after 14 saves, have combined for 37 saves. Since Hicks’ absence, Martinez has the second-most saves in the majors (21). Arizona’s Archie Bradley was second in the National League with 16. There have been 11 pitchers in the majors since that point, June 22, to have at least 15 saves, and Martinez’s 95.5-percent success rate converting save opportunities into wins leads all of them.
WONG’S RECOVERY, ETC.
• Infielder Kolten Wong (strained hamstring) returned to St. Louis and will await the team’s return there for the final series of the regular season. The earliest Wong could begin baseball activities is Wednesday, and rather than having him wedge onto a charter plane and travel to Arizona, the team and Wong felt it was best for him to rest and take the shorter flight. He hopes to be available at some point during the weekend, as a tuneup for the playoffs.
• With the four-game sweep of the Cubs this past weekend, the 2019 Cardinals became one of the few in team history with four four-game sweeps in the same season. Earlier this season the Cardinals swept four-game series against Colorado, Pittsburgh, and the Los Angeles Dodgers, who have the best record in the National League. The previous Cardinals clubs with four four-game sweeps were 1968, 1933, and 1930; the 1943 team led by NL MVP Stan Musial had six four-game sweeps.
• Nineteen different Cardinals have stolen at least one base this season, two off the club record set in 1906.
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