LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Mike Matheny had just answered a reporter's question about the challenges of being a first-year manager when an unexpected situation presented itself.
Yet nearly an hour after they had arrived at
Matheny heard that news from the Cardinals' media relations director just as his team was starting batting practice. That forced him to make alterations to his lineup card before the Cardinals went on to a 4-3 victory.
"I better find Lance and tell him to grab a bat," Matheny said, referring to starting pitcher Lance Lynn.
There was no hint of Matheny being upset about being forced into changing his team's plans. He was calm and collected, and that is exactly how he intends to stay as replaces the legendary
"Every day, something new presents itself," Matheny said. "Every day brings a different challenge. From that standpoint, though, it hasn't been a surprise. I talked to a lot of people who have done this job for a long time, and they said that the one thing about being a manager is that once you think you've seen or handled every situation, something new comes along.
"There are going to be challenges every day in this job."
Matheny's challenges are seemingly larger than those of most first-year managers. After all, he is replacing the third-winningest manager in baseball history and taking over a team that has nowhere to go but down after winning it all last season.
If that's not enough, Matheny is managing professionally for the first time on any level.
Matheny's 13-year playing career as a catcher ended with the
Yet the Cardinals believe Matheny is ready for the task.
Cardinals general manager
"It was really an easy decision," Mozeliak said. "Mike just has a presence about him and such a great understanding of the game. He's a very impressive guy."
Matheny admits he is a "drab" interview and speaks in a lot of cliches.
But Matheny also says "cliches are cliches for a reason, and that's because they are basic truths of the game. I believe that if you do the things the right way then you'll have success."
Matheny seems to be the only person who doesn't think being the Cardinals' new manager is a big deal.
"It's all in your perspective," Matheny said. "I don't make more out of what I'm doing than there is because it would be a disadvantage to (the players). I look at this as an opportunity to fill a position that was available with this team and a chance to keep the momentum going that this organization has already established."
Matheny might have a matter-of-fact tone when talking about his new job, but he also realizes how fortunate he is to step into his current situation.
More often than not, teams in trouble are the ones looking for new managers rather than defending World Series champions.
"We have great veteran leadership," Matheny said. "We have a great group of players who go about their business the right way day after day. As a manager, that's the kind of players and team you want to manage.