May 2009

Lohse officially scratched

Tony La Russa confirmed after Wednesday’s game that Kyle Lohse will not, in fact, start Friday’s game in San Francisco.

The exact plans remain somewhat uncertain, but as of now, the tentative plan is to start Joel Pineiro on Friday, Chris Carpenter on Saturday and Adam Wainwright on Sunday. They’ll all be starting on their normal four days’ rest.

Lohse, of course, has soreness and a welt on his right forearm after being hit by a pitch in his last start. The Cardinals had very much hoped to use Thursday’s off day as an opportunity to give all of their starting pitchers an extra day of rest. Instead, they’ll use it to protect Lohse.

“We’re not going to pitch Lohse, that’s for sure,” La Russa said. “We’ll probably wait till tomorrow and see how Wainwright comes on his second day, but the first two guys [Pineiro and Carpenter] say they’re ready to go on their day. So that’s probably the play we’re going to make, but it can be changed and we can use Thompson.”

-M.

Wednesday tidbits: Lohse questionable for Friday

It’s a gray, wet, chilly day up here in Milwaukee. The roof is closed, and with good reason. This would be a miserable day to play ball outside, if in fact you could even get a game in. But, with the roof, it’s a pleasant 70 or so degrees indoors, and the game starts in 18 minutes. Here’s to modern technology.

* Kyle Lohse appears likely to be skipped from his Friday start as he continues to recover from being hit by a pitch on the right forearm on Saturday. I saw his arm, and he still has a noticeable red welt. Lohse said that during his bullpen session yesterday, he felt something like a “burning cramp” as he released the ball, so he cut the throw short.

It’s tough to envision him pitching Friday, but the Cardinals have not yet confirmed that Lohse has been bagged. If he’s skipped, they’ll likely bump everybody up to four days’ rest rather than giving them the extra day with the off day. A bullpen game is a distant possibility.

* A variety of options exist for what the Cardinals can do when they activate Ryan Ludwick from the disabled list, which is expected to happen Friday. They’re leaning towards keeping 13 pitchers, but it’s conceivable they could send out a pitcher. They could option Nick Stavinoha, though Stavinoha has shown some nice signs at the plate and they could use the extra hitter.

One other option may be to place Khalil Greene on the disabled list. I asked TLR whether they had other choices besides sending out an outfielder, even if they wanted to stay at 13 pitchers, and he said that yes, they do.

However, it would be most logical that if they DL’d Greene, they’d still want to call up an infielder. Five outfielders and five infielders would be a strange mix, even when one of the infielders is also an outfielder.

* Which brings us to today’s lineup, vs LHP Manny Parra:
1. Ryan SS
2. Duncan LF
3. Pujols 1B
4. Stavinoha RF
5. Barden 3B
6. LaRue C
7. Thurston 2B
8. Wellemeyer P
9. Schumaker CF

Yes, Schumaker starting in the outfield for the first time this year. TLR did not want to start Rasmus against the left-hander and risk setting him back after a positive day yesterday. Here’s the skipper’s comment:

“He’s got a little something going, and he’s struggled against lefties. I can play Schu there and let [Rasmus] come off his two base hits yesterday and be ready for San Francisco. There’s no reason he can’t hit them, but he’s struggled against them.”

Today’s playlist is a nod to the ’60s rock’n’roll classics they play a lot of here at Miller Park. Most of these, we’ve heard in the last couple days.

Beatles, “Day Tripper”
Supremes, “You Keep Me Hanging On”
Rolling Stones, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”
Jimi Hendrix, “All Along the Watchtower”
Temptations, “Cloud Nine”

-M.

Lots of late-night tidbits

Usually, if it gets to this point in the evening and I haven’t posted tidbits, I’ll just bag it. But in this case, there was simply too much stuff to ignore. Very busy and interesting day at the ballpark, with a long and valuable pregame chats with not only TLR but Mozeliak.

* Rick Ankiel, we were told, is improving but not ready yet. He may be available to pinch-hit on Wednesday, but more likely he won’t play until Friday in San Francisco.

* TLR, pregame, on putting Chris Duncan in the 2 spot, and whether it was an attempt to get Duncan going: “That’s the main reason I’m doing it.”

Sometimes those things work out…

* TLR and Mo were both asked (not by me) before the game about the possibility of Rasmus being sent out as a corresponding move when Ludwick is activated. Both dismissed it pretty much out of hand. Asked if Rasmus was safe, this was TLR’s answer:

“Yeah. Why not? Are we sending somebody out that’s hitting better than he is? The best problem we can have is when four of those guys are swinging the bat real well and you have to pick three of the four.”

* There’s a story I wrote earlier tonight on Glaus’ status that’s currently on the site. Rather than recapping it here, I’ll simply send you right to the story.

* As noted in the game preview that will go up shortly, Jason LaRue will catch tomorrow. TLR detests the whole personal-catcher thing, but will use LaRue with Wellemeyer just the same. It’s partly because Molina is going to catch all three games this weekend against SF, and quite possibly all four after that against Cincinnati.

* The Cardinals are not likely to go back to 12 pitchers when they make the move with Ludwick. Mozeliak on that topic:

“If we didn’t have that stretch beginning on Friday, we probably would have gone back to 12. But given some of the uncertainties we have, and we don’t have an off day for the next [2 1/2] weeks…

“If things go well with our rotation, not necessarily replicate what we’ve seen in the last six days but kind of follow suit, then at that point we might go back to 12 pitchers. I think we’ll carry 13 pitchers probably for the foreseeable — seven to 10 days. There’s no off day. If we see what we’ve seen the past week from our starters continue into next week, then I think we might reconsider.”

* Mozeliak said he expects that Joe Mather will return to action sometime next week. Mather has not played since May 7 after undergoing a wrist operation. It would obviously be a very big boost for this team to get Mather healthy and hitting well enough to be called up. His right-handed pop is definitely missed.

* TLR was noncommittal on whether Khalil Greene will start tomorrow’s game. His postgame comment on that:

“I’m going to give it some thought tonight. He had a rough day and he wasn’t happy with himself. I’m going to think about it tonight. I’m not sure about tomorrow yet.

“When he struggles, it eats at him. This game is about struggles. You make seven outs in 10, and all that stuff. but it eats at him. He cares.”

* Former Packers GM Ron Wolf was in attendance. Wolf is one of the most
frequent visitors to Spring Training and a good friend of TLR’s. In my
experience, also a good guy; enjoyable fellow to talk baseball or
football with.

* And finally, a reminder that I love talking ball on Twitter. Follow me there, my handle is MatthewHLeach.

I think it is too late for a playlist, especially since I’ll be back here in about 8 1/2 hours.

-M.

Monday tidbits: Ank a bit sore — ROTATION CORRECTED

I stepped off the plane this morning in Milwaukee, a city I’m really fond of, and was surprised by the weather. It’s brisk today, was in the low 50s this morning and we probably won’t see 70 at any point in this series. Still, pleasant, and the roof is open at Miller Park.

With some outstanding Alterra coffee in my tummy, here are the tidbits:

* Rick Ankiel is a bit sore in his right shoulder and got the day off. The No. 5 spot in the order was left open until Ankiel arrived and they could evaluate him. When he got in, they elected to give him a recovery day. He’s expected to be back in the lineup tomorrow.

“That’s one reason I wanted to play him yesterday,” TLR said. “You’ve got to get through that — play and get sore. He’s got a little sore spot so I’m not going to push him. Hopefully he’ll be back in there tomorrow.”

* Former Cardinal John Mabry, a very popular man among both fans and teammates, is with the club on this road trip. He’s serving as a batting practice pitcher and instructor, getting a look at what life as a coach is like.

“He’s trying to explore things about getting back in the game,” said John Mozeliak. “Tony and I and some of the coaches will talk to him a little bit about it. … It worked out. We had a need. So the timing was mutually beneficial.”

* Ryan Ludwick continues to progress well. He said he’s feeling very good, and he put on quite a show in batting practice. According to everyone I’ve talked to, he’s on schedule to be activated for Friday in San Francisco, and TLR said he will not go on a rehab.

* Khalil Greene is expected to be back in the starting lineup for tomorrow’s game. TLR likes the way he’s coming along, and feels that he work he’s doing with Pujols has been very beneficial.

* TLR on Tyler Greene: “He could be a utility man in the big leagues right now. But we want him to be an everyday player and he needs at-bats.”

* The Cardinals will simply roll over their rotation after Thursday’s off day, giving everyone an extra day of rest. So it will be Todd Wellemeyer on Friday in San Francisco, Kyle Lohse on Friday in San Francisco, Joel Pineiro on Saturday and Carpenter on Sunday.

* The Cardinals and Brewers are both wearing commemorative red caps in honor of Memorial Day. The caps have an American-flag pattern covering the team logo, much like last year’s navy blue caps.

* Catcher-turned-pitcher Casey Mulligan has been promoted. After embarrassing the Midwest League (20 IP, 36 K, 5 BB, 8 H, 1 ER, 0 HR), he’s now going to be pitching for high Class A Palm Beach.

And, finally, no playlist today. Instead, I want to take a moment to join the chorus thanking and recognizing everyone who has served our country in the armed forces, and especially those who gave their lives.

As Mabry said this morning, “Happy Memorial Day… no, humble Memorial Day.”

-M.

Monday lineup

Lineup confirmed, Stavinoha batting fifth in RF.

Just came back from the clubhouse, and there’s a lineup posted, but it’s missing one piece.

Vs. RHP Yovani Gallardo:
1. Schumaker 2B
2. Rasmus CF
3. Pujols 1B
4. Duncan LF
5. Stavinoha RF
6. Molina C
7. Thurston 3B
8. Carpenter P
9. Ryan SS

That 5 spot will go to either Stavinoha or Ankiel, neither of whom is currently listed among the  bench options. So one will go in the lineup and one will go to the bench, it would seem.

Complete lineup, and tidbits, to follow.

-M.

Friday tidbits: Ank still not that close

* Rick Ankiel is progressing slowly in his recovery from the longest-lingering of his injuries from that crash against the Busch Stadium outfield wall. The issue remains some soreness in his left oblique, and while Ankiel has not taken a step back, he’s still not ready to return to the active roster.

“I was talking to him, and it pretty much comes down to when the discomfort is totally gone,” manager Tony La Russa said. “And it’s still there today. So I really have no idea. I think there’s a chance it’s going to be around for a while.”

La Russa acknowledged that it’s possible that Ryan Ludwick could return before Ankiel. The club fully expects Ludwick, who has a strained right hamstring, to be activated the day he is eligible, which is Friday, May 29.

It’s even possible at this point that Ankiel may need to go out on a Minor League rehab assignment before he’s activated. The Cardinals do not expect Ludwick to go on a rehab, but he will likely participate in some sort of game simulation next week.

* La Russa insists that today’s day off for Yadier Molina is simply a day off after an intense week of games. He’s very down on any suggestion of a personal-catcher relationship, despite the fact that Todd Wellemeyer has had more success pitching to Jason LaRue than to Molina.

“When that happens, that to me is a sign of weakness in a pitcher,” La Russa said. “Greg Maddux did it, [but] he did it because he wanted to control the game.”

* The ‘I’ in the Big Mac Land sign is still out tonght. There’s a sign hanging from it, though, that reads:

Ouch! my “I”

Today, a playlist for a sunny, lovely, early-summer day:
Presidents of the USA, “Peaches”
Rolling Stones, “She’s So Cold” (been on a big Stones kick lately)
Material Issue, “She’s Going Through My Head”
Bruce Springsteen, “Darlington County”
Better Than Ezra, “Good”

-M.

Friday lineup, tidbits to follow

Lineup vs RHP Kyle Davies:

1. Schumaker 2B
2. Barden 3B
3. Pujols 1B
4. Duncan LF
5. Stavinoha RF
6. Rasmus CF
7. LaRue C
8. Wellemeyer P
9. Ryan SS

-M.

Thursday tidbits: Still a few more days for Ank

It’s really been a spectacular run of weather here lately. Often by this time of year it’s gotten unmercifully hot, but instead it’s just been beautiful.

* Rick Ankiel is likely still a few days away from being activated as he continues to deal with soreness in his left oblique. That’s a notoriously tricky injury, and a tough one to get to go away entirely.

* Ryan Ludwick, however, increased the intensity of his running today and sounds like he’s coming along great. He’s unwilling to hazard a guess, but it sounds like there’s a very good chance he’ll be able to be activated when his 15 days are up.

* Chris Duncan is simply getting a day off after playing a lot lately. It’s not the most imposing lineup, but TLR said he felt Duncan was ready for a breather.

Today’s playlist:
Rolling Stones, “Rocks Off”
Pearl Jam, “Last Exit”
Jane’s Addiction, “Jane Says”
Buffalo Tom, “Summer”
Liz Phair, “6’1″”

-M.

Tuesday tidbits: Ank approaching

It’s an absolutely perfect night at Busch Stadium, nice and mild and not too windy. Windows open here in the press box.

* Rick Ankiel is northbound as I write this. He’s coming to St. Louis tonight. Tomorrow, they’ll check him out, and if he’s cleared, he’ll be activated.

* Yesterday, I asked TLR if there was any argument to be made for starting a prime defensive infield behind Pineiro, and he essentially said no, he wouldn’t tailor his infield to his starting pitcher. Then, today, he puts out what is at least arguably his best defensive infield, including the LHH Joe Thurston against LHP Ted Lilly. IMO it’s absolutely the right thing to do; you have to have a good defense behind Pineiro.

* David Freese underwent ankle surgery today. Per John Mozeliak, it was a relatively minor surgery but nonetheless will keep him out for a good couple of months. Terrible break for Freese, who had a great opportunity this year if he’d been healthy.

* The pitcher was back in the 8th spot today. TLR noted that it was definitely in part due to the recent offensive struggles. His thought process is always, if things aren’t working, try something different.

* They’ve made no announcement as to what the corresponding move will be when Chris Carpenter is activated tomorrow. However, it sounded like Brad Thompson won’t be the odd man out. I asked La Russa if they still needed a long reliever, and he said that ideally, they do.

Today’s playlist:
10,000 Maniacs: “Poison in the Well”
Death Cab for Cutie: “The New Year”
Mike Doughty: “Navigating by the Stars at Night”
Tanya Donnelly: “Kundalini Slide”
Kay Hanley: “Satellite”

-M.

Carpenter expected to start Wednesday, plus lineup

The Cardinals expect Chris Carpenter to return from the disabled list Wednesday and start that evening’s game against the Cubs, manager Tony La Russa confirmed on Sunday.

Carpenter has been out since April 14 due to a strained left oblique muscle. He threw four simulated innings on Friday, followed by a bullpen session on Sunday morning. The Cardinals had hoped to hold Carpenter out until next weekend. However, a rainout on Friday and subsequent makeup day on Monday forced their hand, as the club lost an off day and had to go to a fifth starter sooner than expected.

Kyle Lohse, who started Friday’s game before it was washed out in the second inning, will pitch in the makeup game on Monday against Milwaukee. Joel Pineiro will take his scheduled turn on Tuesday at home in the series opener against the Cubs, with Carpenter pitching for the first time in 36 days on Wednesday.

In two starts this year, Carpenter is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA. He amassed nine strikeouts against two walks in 10 innings of two games. In his absence, rookies P.J. Walters and Mitchell Boggs have both taken turns in the starting rotation.

Today’s STL lineup vs LHP Manny Parra:
1. Ryan 2B
2. Robinson RF
3. Pujols 1B
4. Molina C
5. Stavinoha LF
6. Rasmus CF
7. K.Greene SS
8. Barden 3B
9. Wellemeyer P

-M.

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