Center fielder Colby Rasmus is hitting above .300 for the first six-plus weeks of the season largely because he is handling left-handers better than he did in his first two seasons.
As the Cardinals prepare to meet the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday night in the start of a three-game set, Rasmus is hitting .324 against left-handers and .295 against right-handers.
A good second half last year left Rasmus' average against left-handers at a respectable .270. But in his rookie season of 2009, Rasmus had only 17 hits (only five more than he has now) in 106 at-bats against left-handers for a .160 mark.
"Last year, I felt all right," Rasmus said. "The first year I struggled against them, for sure. But I never had any emphasis put on lefty-lefty and all this stuff. I just went out there and hit them."
Manager Tony La Russa, who has been won over by Rasmus' improvement against left-handers, talked about Rasmus' performance in the 2009 playoffs against two Los Angeles Dodgers left-handers.
"I remember his rookie year, and you just watch him in the playoffs against (Clayton) Kershaw and (Randy) Wolf, and he hangs in there great," La Russa said.
"It's just a matter of getting to know them. There's no reason why he can't be a complete hitter."
Rasmus has hit second, fifth and sixth and had some success in each. He is at No. 2 now.
"I think he can hit in an RBI spot," La Russa said. "I'm not sure everybody's going to play all the time, so he can hit fifth, he can hit fourth.
"Sometimes you look at the guys that are playing and if there isn't a second-place hitter, he hits second."
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