April 2009

Friday tidbits

Another busy day. Aren’t they all at Wrigley?

Here are the tidbits:

* Albert Pujols clarified things regarding the Home Run Derby today. He said he was mostly caught off-guard by the announcement and the questions about it yesterday, but that he’d like to participate. And if he’s on the All-Star team and healthy, he fully expects to participate.

* More Pujols: that ball that hit him on the left arm got him pretty well, and he was still in some pain after the game. It was above the elbow, and he had a noticeable welt. He said he hopes to play tomorrow, but couldn’t guarantee it; he didn’t do his normal lifting after the game because of the discomfort.

* TLR on the choice to send Kinney out in order to make room for Walters: “It was a close call, because we feel Josh is an important part of this ‘pen. But he hasn’t gotten his delivery where it needs to be. And it’s tough to get better when you’re pitching pressure innings, so this is an opportunity for him to get work.”

* Also per TLR, Khalil Greene and Rick Ankiel showed signs of progress yesterday, which is exactly why they weren’t in the lineup today. He didn’t want to send them out there against Zambrano and set them back after they were starting to come around. Witness Ank’s double off Heilman as another sign he is in fact getting right.

* They’ll probably just roll the starters over after the off day, with Pineiro on Tuesday and Wainwright on Wednesday. No word on whether Walters will get another start, for a turn that would come on Thursday at home against the Mets.

* TLR on the Cubs’ comments postgame yesterday: “Normally you don’t get away with criticizing umpires like that.” Of course he also thought the 3-2 to Bradley was a strike.

Today, a different kind of Chicago playlist:
Smashing Pumpkins, “Drown”
Wilco, “Via Chicago”
Liz Phair, “Strange Loop”
Material Issue, “Goin’ Through Your Purse”
OK Go, “Get Over It”
Ministry, “N.W.O.”


Walters in, Kinney out, and the lineup

P.J. Walters is in the lineup, pitching and batting ninth today. Josh Kinney was the man sent out to make room for Walters.

Today’s lineup vs RHP Carlos Zambrano:
1. Schumaker 2B
2. Rasmus CF
3. Pujols 1B
4. Ludwick RF
5. Duncan LF
6. Molina C
7. Thurston 3B
8. Barden SS
9. Walters P


Thursday afternoon tidbits

As expected, a very busy day at Wrigley today. Fortunately, it’s a gorgeous day, after they got some miserable weather earlier this week (and, I hear, we may get some of that before the weekend is out).

* According to TLR, Chris Carpenter underwent an MRI around midday today. We’re still waiting to hear what exactly the club found out. There may or may not be an official announcement regarding his condition, but I expect to have some sort of story on it before the day is out.

* Chris Perez is unavailable in the bullpen today, and at least a couple of other pitchers, they’d rather not use. Kyle McClellan, Josh Kinney and Jason Motte all count as break-glass-in-case-of-emergency pitchers. They could appear, but the preference would be to avoid them. Franklin, Boggs and the lefties are the main men.

* P.J. Walters will be added to the roster tomorrow, but it’s undetermined what they’ll do to get him on. If Boggs pitches extensively today, he might be the guy. They could also go to 13 pitchers for a time.

* Members of the band Tesla dropped by to see the club today. They’re playing a few shows in the area this weekend.

* At least 7-8 Cardinals had a long chat on the field with Aaron Miles before today’s game. Whatever one may think of him as a ballplayer — and it’s pretty much a dead horse around here — there’s never been any denying that he’s a terrific teammate.

Today’s playlist, a Chicago special:
Muddy Waters: “Mannish Boy”
Buddy Guy: “Damn Right I’ve Got the Blues”
Howlin’ Wolf: “Spoonful”
Bo Diddley: “Who Do You Love”
Chuck Berry: “Maybellene” (Yeah, he’s from StL, but he recorded for Chess)



Thursday lineup, Friday starter

Greetings from a spectacular day at Wrigley Field.

For those who haven’t heard, tomorrow’s starter will be P.J. Walters. He’ll be called up from Memphis in time for the game.

Today’s lineup vs LHP Sean Marshall:
1. Ryan 2B
2. Ankiel CF
3. Pujols 1B
4. Ludwick RF
5. Molina C
6. Duncan LF
7. Greene SS
8. Barden 3B
9. Wainwright P

More tidbits to come as the day goes on. Maybe even a Lucky Seven!


Saturday lineup vs Oswalt

Intriguing lineup today…

1. Schumaker 2B
2. Rasmus RF
3. Pujols 1B
4. Duncan LF
5. Ankiel CF
6. Molina C
7. Thurston 3B
8. Ryan SS
9. Wainwright P

Every left-hander is in the lineup, which is curious since Oswalt had virtually no L/R split last year (262/291/399 vs LHH, 243/303/385 vs RHH). Khalil Greene gets a day, presumably due to his 2-for-16 mark against Oswalt.

Plenty of questions to ask TLR when we get down there, though — Ryan looks like he certainly could have hit 9, with Thurston 7. And it’s the second time Ludwick has sat the day after hitting a HR. Moreover, might have been a good day to get LaRue (8-for-29 vs Oswalt) in there.

So we’ll head down shortly, and ask those questions. More to come later.

Stat of the night

From the I-have-no-idea-what-it-means-but-it-sounds-cool department:

With seven assists tonight, Albert Pujols has set a franchise record for a first baseman. He’s the first man to record seven assists at first base for ANY team since 1971.

Guy’s got a little bit of range.

Pujols also collected the 700th walk of his Major League career tonight.


Tuesday afternoon tidbits: More fun with the lineup

* Today’s lineup is another interesting one: 1.Schumaker 2B — 2.Rasmus RF — 3.Pujols 1B — 4.Duncan LF — 5.Greene SS — 6.Ankiel CF — 7.Molina C — 8.Thurston 3B — 9.Lohse P

* David Freese will start at 3B tomorrow, but today, every LH hitter is in the lineup. As for the pitcher’s spot, it’s ninth again in part due to the No. 7 hitter. TLR doesn’t like having a slow player (such as Molina) in front of the pitcher, because it makes the sacrifice bunt a lower percentage play. My personal assessment is that he’s moving more and more away from hitting the pitcher eighth. It seems as though he’s finding reasons NOT to do it, rather than finding reasons to do it.

* According to TLR, Chris Carpenter threw as scheduled yesterday and is still on track to make his start on Thursday.

* It could be a challenge getting enough innings out of the relievers tonight if Kyle Lohse can’t get deep into the game. Jason Motte is unavailable after throwing nearly 30 pitches. Trever Miller might could get an out, but they wouldn’t want to use him for more than that. Kyle McClellan is also limited, though not necessarily unavailable, and they’ll be careful with Josh Kinney.

* Tomorrow is team photo day.

* Another reminder, don’t forget to follow me on Twitter by going to Twitter.com/MatthewHLeach.

*Today’s playlist is all courtesy of The Hold Steady after their amazing show at the Gargoyle last night. And in fact it’s all stuff that they played last night:

“Massive Nights” (great show opener)
“Constructive Summer”
“Yeah Sapphire”
“How a Resurrection Really Feels”
“Stay Positive”


Sunday workout tidbits

* The Opening Day lineup, which I posted a few minutes ago, is as follows against LHP Paul Maholm: 1.Ryan 2B — 2.Ankiel CF — 3.Pujols 1B — 4.Greene SS — 5.Ludwick RF — 6.Molina C — 7.Duncan LF — 8.Barden 3B — 9.Wainwright P.

* The Cardinals officially finalized their roster on Sunday, purchasing the contracts of three players: Colby Rasmus, David Freese and Joe Thurston

* Luis Perdomo was cut by the Giants, but will need to clear waivers before the Cardinals can claim him. Per Mozeliak, “Obviously if he clears, we’ll take him back.”

* Tomorrow’s weather does in fact look nasty, but per TLR and Mozeliak, they do expect it to be dry enough to play. Both also confirmed that if there is a postponement, Tuesday would be a split doubleheader.

* Welcome B.J. Rains, who will serve as my associate reporter this year. He already contributed by covering the weekend series in Memphis, and I expect him to do an excellent job.

* And a reminder to follow my updates on Twitter, where my handle is MatthewHLeach.


Opening Day lineup

TLR unveiled the Monday lineup this afternoon. It’s as follows:

1. Brendan Ryan, 2B
2. Rick Ankiel, CF
3. Albert Pujols, 1B
4. Khalil Greene, SS
5. Ryan Ludwick, RF
6. Yadier Molina, C
7. Chris Duncan, LF
8. Brian Barden, 3B
9. Adam Wainwright, P

Let the conversation begin…


Carpenter scratched from Friday start due to mild calf injury

JUPITER, Fla. — Cardinals right-hander Chris Carpenter has been scratched from his scheduled Friday exhibition start due to a mild left calf injury. However, he fully expects to make his regular-season debut as planned on Thursday, April 9, at home against the Pirates.

Carpenter was running on Monday, a day after his last Grapefruit League game, when he felt discomfort in his calf. He said it was sore on Monday and Tuesday but started getting better on Wednesday.

“I was running on Monday and my calf spasmed up,” Carpenter said Wednesday after the Cardinals’ loss to the Mets. “This morning I came in and it’s pretty much normal. I’m not sprinting around or anything, but it feels pretty good.”

Carpenter expects to throw a bullpen session on Friday and another one on Monday before making his scheduled April 9 start. He has been limited to five games, four starts over the past two seasons due to elbow and shoulder injuries.

“We’re just going to err on the side of not pushing it,” said manager Tony La Russa. “He was much better today and felt like he could pitch on Friday, but we decided [to be cautious].”

P.J. Walters will start in Carpenter’s stead in the Friday night game in Memphis between the Cardinals and their Triple-A Memphis affiliate.