July 2009

Friday tidbits: Ryan, K.Greene, Boggs, Stavinoha, bullpen

It’s another gorgeous night at Busch Stadium. The scoreboard in the bullpen reads 80 degrees at 6:46 pm, and that’s about as nice as you can ask for in St. Louis in late July. Great stuff.

* For those who missed it, the non-waiver Trade Deadline passed without the Cardinals making another move. Of course, they’ve already made three since late June, so it’s not like they stood pat all along.

* Brendan Ryan did not stretch with the team today and he’s definitely out for several days. The club is still calling his injury a bruise, but it’s a nasty bruise and he’s got plenty of swelling. He’s quite certainly out for the weekend, and the New York series is no guarantee. However, they’re not placing him on the disabled list yet.

“It seems like the 3-5 days would be very optimistic,” John Mozeliak said this afternoon.

It’s hard to envision Ryan even coming off the bench for at least the immediate future.

“Lot of pain last night,” said manager Tony La Russa. “We’ll see how quickly the swelling is reduced. But he’s limited. He’s not going to play the weekend, and Monday, that’s four days there. so we’ll see.”

* Balancing that out, however, is the strong likelihood that Khalil Greene will be activated tomorrow. Greene talked at length with associate reporter B.J. Rains today, so look for a story about him tonight. But suffice to say it appears that Saturday is his day for activation. Greene was on the field working out with the Cards this afternoon.

“He feels great and he’s going to work out with us,” TLR said. “He’s in great spirits and he played very well in Memphis.”

* It’s likely that when Greene is activated, he’ll take the place of Mitchell Boggs. The right-hander will be sent out following his start tonight, regardless of how he pitches. That’s because the Cardinals don’t need a fifth starter again until Aug. 11, which is of course 11 days away.

So Boggs can be sent out, make a start at Memphis, and be recalled if he’s the choice the next time around.

“The reality,” La Russa said, “is we don’t need the fifth spot again for [11] days. I hope he pitches a shutout, but he probably is here today and gone tomorrow. He’ll be back later.”

* To make room for Boggs today, Nick Stavinoha was optioned to Triple-A Memphis. There’s a good chance Stavinoha will be back before rosters expand on Sept. 1, but for now he’s headed back down I-55.

“You work every day to try and get one opportunity and one chance to help the team out,” Stavinoha said, “so I’ll just go down and keep my sights set on the role I have and do my job down there and hopefully come back up and do it here.”

* The bullpen is definitely stretched tonight. Ryan Franklin could conceivably be available, but they’d much prefer not to use him. If he pitches tonight, he’s probably down for the rest of the weekend. Hawksworth remains off-limits for at least one more day, and maybe till Sunday. McClellan is likely not an option, either. Brad Thompson and Todd Wellemeyer are the “protection” tonight — i.e., the guys who would be available to soak up some innings if need be.

For tonight’s playlist, a nod to Houston:
King’s X, “It’s Love” (had no idea they were from Houston)
Beyonce, “Crazy In Love”
ZZ Top, “La Grange”
Robert Earl Keen, “Shades of Gray”
Lyle Lovett, “Nobody Knows Me”

-M.
 

Lucky Seven: OK, fine, call it a comeback

In case you’ve forgotten, we used to have a feature here called “Lucky Seven.” It’s back, at the urging of MLB.com’s own T.R. Sullivan. Some Cardinals questions, some baseball questions, some non-baseball questions.

What I ask of you is pretty simple. 1. As always, be respectful of each other. 2. If one of the questions doesn’t interest you, just ignore it. No need to brag about how you don’t watch TV or listen to music or whatever. Just ignore it. Answer as many or as few as you like.

1. As currently constructed, where will the Cardinals finish in the NL Central? How many wins will they finish with? (Note: they’re currently on pace for 87 wins)

2. If the Cardinals could make one more addition (within reason; they’re obviously not getting Roy Halladay), what would you like to see them do? A setup man? A fifth starter? Bat off the bench?

3. Will Matt Holliday be a Cardinal in 2010? Will Mark DeRosa?

4. What’s the best team in baseball?

5. The “Six is a serious number” commercial: love it? Hate it? Think it’s so bad that it’s good?

6. What’s the best movie you’ve seen so far this summer?

7. What’s the song of the summer so far?

-M.

Ryan removed from game

Brendan Ryan was removed from Thursday night’s game against the Dodgers due to an apparent left foot or ankle injury.

Batting in the bottom of the second inning against Hiroki Kuroda, Ryan fouled a ball off the lower part of his left leg. He hit the ground in pain quickly, and head athletic trainer Barry Weinberg came out to tend to the speedy infielder.

After consulting with Weinberg, Ryan remained in the game to finish his at-bat, and he grounded out to shortstop. However, he was clearly compromised as he attempted to run the ball out. When he returned to the dugout, he was removed from the game. Julio Lugo took his place at shortstop.

Lugo is the favorite to take any playing time at shortstop in Ryan’s absence. The Cardinals also anticipate activating Khalil Greene from the disabled list shortly, and Tyler Greene has hit extremely well at Triple-A Memphis lately.

Ryan has emerged as a premier defensive shortstop this season, and he’s held his own at the plate. However, he’s had great trouble staying healthy throughout his professional career.

Thursday tidbits: Ludwick, Molina, rotation

* Ryan Ludwick is not in the starting lineup tonight, but it’s just a scheduled night off, no big deal.

TLR on the decision: “He’s played a lot, and I wanted to get Ankiel in there and I wanted to get Rasmus in there. it’s not going to hurt him to take a day. he’d definitely like to play.”

* Yadier Molina, however, IS in there even after catching 15 innings last night. The skipper said he checked with Molina last night and again this afternoon, and he was good to go. It seems very likely he’ll have the next three games, with the rookie and then Carpenter and Wainwright, so I’m a bit surprised by the decision not to give him a rest tonight.

* TLR is not committing to a rotation for the coming days, but it seems to shake down pretty cleanly: Boggs Friday, Carpenter and Wainwright over the weekend. Pineiro and Lohse in New York, followed by Carpenter, Wainwright and Pineiro in Pittsburgh. After tomorrow, they’d next need a fifth starter on Aug. 11 against Cincinnati at home.

* Following last night’s lengthy game, the Cardinals did change up their routine a bit. Players were told that they could arrive an hour later, and there was no batting practice on the field.

Today’s playlist:
Duran Duran, “Careless Memories”
Blur, “There’s No Other Way”
Chromeo, “Needy Girl”
Electronic, “Reality”
Garbage, “Silence Is Golden”

-M.

Thursday lineups; tidbits to follow

Cardinals lineup vs. RHP Hiroki Kuroda:
1. Schumaker 2B
2. Rasmus CF
3. Pujols 1B
4. Holliday LF
5. Ankiel RF
6. DeRosa 3B
7. Molina C
8. Ryan SS
9. Lohse P

Dodgers lineup:
1. Furcal SS
2. Hudson 2B
3. Ramirez LF
4. Ethier RF
5. Blake 3B
6. Loney 1B
7. Kemp CF
8. Ausmus C
9. Kuroda P

-M.

Wednesday tidbits: Greene, Ankiel, Rasmus, DeRosa

Wow, just an amazing night at Busch Stadium, game time temperature in the mid-80s but feels even nicer than that.

* Khalil Greene is coming along nicely and could be activated soon.

“He’s getting his work in,” John Mozeliak said. “He’s feeling good and we’re going to revisit it this weekend. There’s a chance that we’ll contemplate activating him shortly.”

* The Cardinals started an unusual outfield tonight, with Holliday in left, Ludwick in center and Stavinoha in right — part of an all-right-handed lineup. That’s in part due to Clayton Kershaw’s splits — lefties are hitting 174/253/233 against him. And it’s in part due to Rick Ankiel’s recovery from a mild groin strain.

“I was thinking be really careful today and he’d be OK tomorrow,” TLR said. “He said he feels really good today. But I still would like to… try not to use him. But he feels majorly improved.”

The skipper said if he’d started a left-hander in center, it would have been Schumaker. Rasmus is recovering pretty well, but TLR didn’t want him in against a guy like Kershaw. He also quipped that when Ludwick got a little cocky about playing center field, he knocked Ludwick down a bit by pointing out that it’s only because Pineiro is a groundball pitcher.

(NOTE: this was in jest, please spare the “TLR won’t let them have any fun” or whatever.)

* As for Rasmus, he discussed his recurring heel soreness with B.J. Rains and a couple of other scribes this afternoon.

“You can’t rest it, or give it enough rest to where it will go away,” Rasmus said. “It feels good now. I just have to deal with it until the offseason when it goes away. It’s just like a bone bruise, a deep bruise down to the bone.

“It just depends. Sometimes I feel it when I’m running, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I feel it when I’m hitting, sometimes I won’t. It’s kind of hit or miss.”

* Also from the shedding-light-on-injuries category, Mark DeRosa talked some about his left wrist this afternoon.

“I wouldn’t say it’s behind me,” he said. “I’ll re-assess it at the end of the year. I feel it every time I swing, but it’s not very painful. It’s just a strange feeling. I can’t even explain it. It’s like my knuckles are cracking when I hit the ball. That’s what it feels like. It’s something I’ve gotten used to in the last two or three weeks, and as long as it’s not affecting me on the field, it’s not a problem.”

* This was passed along to me by a couple of people, so I figured I’d pass it along to y’all:

The St. Louis Cardinals & Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society will host over 100 kids from the Redbird Rookies baseball league, sponsored by Cardinals Care at Busch Stadium on Thursday from 10 a.m. to noon as part of the team’s 2009 P.L.A.Y. (Promoting a Lifetime of Activity for Youth) Campaign. Cardinals head athletic trainer Barry Weinberg and staff, along with a current Cardinals player, will run drills and participate in a Q&A session.  The P.L.A.Y. program was created in 2004 to educate children about the importance of living active and healthy lifestyles.

Today’s playlist:
Better Than Ezra, “Desperately Wanting” (saw them last weekend, v.good show)
Tegan and Sara, “Back in Your Head”
Sonic Youth, “Incinerate” (saw them a couple weeks ago, terrific show)
Radiohead, “Paranoid Android”
R.E.M., “Binky the Doormat”

-M.

Mateo meets Pujols, media

ST. LOUIS — Wagner Mateo got a look on Monday at the ballpark he hopes to call home in a few years. Exactly how many years is open to debate, but Mateo is optimistic.

Mateo, 16, signed with the Cardinals as an amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic earlier this month. He agreed to terms on July 2, the first day agreements can be reached with 16-year-olds in the Dominican. The final details have been hammered out over the past few weeks, and on Monday the Cardinals brought Mateo in to see Busch Stadium.

He also met the media, with Cardinals vice president of scouting and player development Jeff Luhnow serving as translator.

“He said it was very meaningful for him to come to Busch Stadium for the first time,” Luhnow said for Mateo, “and he hopes to be back within two or three years.”

That’s probably a bit aggressive. Though Mateo is polished for 16 years old, he won’t even begin playing games in the Cardinals’ system until next year. He signed a 2010 contract, and the club will work him out at its Dominican academy over the winter. He’ll report to Minor League Spring Training with the hope that he can report to rookie-level Johnson City next summer.

In the meantime, he’s getting a look around. Mateo took swings in the batting cage at Busch Stadium, and even got a couple of bats from Albert Pujols — not to mention a pointer from the slugger.

“He [Pujols] said don’t move around so much,” Mateo said through Luhnow.
 

Monday tidbits: Rasmus, Wellemeyer, Glaus, trade talk

Time to flesh some of this stuff out a little bit more…

* Colby Rasmus is dealing with what the club is calling a bruise on his left heel. He has undergone a second injection in the area to help ease the pain. According to Tony La Russa, he should be available to start on Tuesday, and could play off the bench on Monday night. In his place, Rick Ankiel once again started in center field.

“He’s capable of playing tonight,” La Russa said on Monday afternoon.

* They’ve yet to name a Friday starter, and there’s no guarantee it will be Wellemeyer. In fact, there’s a decent chance that it won’t be. The question is, if not Wellemeyer, then who? And that’s a little harder to figure. Brad Thompson, Blake Hawksworth and Mitchell Boggs would all have to be considered among the candidates.

Beyond that, though, the Cardinals will cut back drastically on the starts for whoever is the No. 5 guy starting next week. They might not need a fifth starter more than twice in August.

“We’ve mapped out August, and because of the off days, that one spot will be disrupted and we’ll try to keep four guys as regular as possible,” La Russa said. “Todd could have pitched a no-hitter yesterday and that would still be true.”

* Troy Glaus is playing again at Double-A Springfield after missing some time due to back soreness. The Cards are quite clearly looking to trade him someplace where there’s a fit for him — that is, a team that needs a first baseman or DH.

“Right now I think it’s going to be something where we look to try to find a place where he’ll get more at-bats and more opportunity,” John Mozeliak said. “Right now, given our club, that would be very hard to do.”

* To follow up more on the earlier tidbit regarding trade possibilities, Mozeliak made it very clear that the only kind of trade they’ll make between now and Friday is one in which they take on no new salary and give up no prospects.

“This is our team,” Mozeliak said. “There are some areas that could get better, but we plan on trying to address those internally. There’s always a chance [for acquiring someone in trade]. But honestly I think when we look right now at our rotation, if we’ve got to try to improve it, we’ve got to do it from within.”

Separate blog entry on Wagner Mateo coming a little later.

Tonight’s playlist:
Oasis, “Hey Now!”
Everclear, “The Twistinside”
The Postal Service, “Clark Gable”
U2, “Bullet the Blue Sky”
Mike Doughty, “Like a Luminous Girl”

-M.

(don’t forget to follow me on Twitter, @MatthewHLeach)

Monday lineups and early tidbits: Wellemeyer, Rasmus, Mateo, trades

Lots and lots of stuff going on at Busch Stadium today.

* TLR said that Todd Wellemeyer’s next start is not a sure thing. They’re going to make a decision in the coming days, but at this point, Friday is TBA.

* Colby Rasmus had an injection in his troublesome left heel and is improving. He’s available to come off the bench tonight and likely will be ready to start tomorrow.

* Wagner Mateo is here, wearing a Cardinal jersey with number 09 and taking some swings and working out.

* John Mozeliak sounded like it’s all but certain that the Cardinals will not trade any more prospects before the deadline. If they can move Glaus, they will look into doing that. But a move where they send a youngster out for help in the bullpen or rotation is pretty much off.

Today’s lineup vs LHP Randy Wolf:
1. Lugo 2B
2. DeRosa 3B
3. Pujols 1B
4. Holliday LF
5. Ludwick RF
6. Molina C
7. Ankiel CF
8. Ryan SS
9. Carpenter P

Dodgers lineup:
1. Furcal SS
2. Hudson 2B
3. Ramirez LF
4. Ethier RF
5. Blake 3B
6. Loney 1B
7. Martin C
8. Kemp CF
9. Wolf P

-M.

Cardinals acquire Holliday

A Major League source has confirmed that a deal is in place for the Cardinals to acquire Matt Holliday from the A’s in exchange for Brett Wallace, Triple-A right-hander Clayton Mortensen and Double-A outfielder Shane Peterson. ESPN reports that Oakland will send some cash to St. Louis to help offset some of the remaining cost of Holliday’s contract.

Holliday has long been a target of the Cardinals, who talked trade with Colorado over the winter before the Rockies shipped the three-time All-Star to Oakland. He bolsters the team’s outfield and offers the cleanup hitter that manager Tony La Russa has long coveted to slot behind Albert Pujols in the Cardinals lineup.

Holliday, 29, can be a free agent at the end of the 2009 season. His current contract pays him $13.5 million, of which approximately $6 million is still due.

Wallace, 22, was St. Louis’ first-round pick in the 2008 Draft and has rocketed through the Minor Leagues. He is currently playing at Triple-A Memphis. Mortensen, 24, is also at Memphis and was a supplementary first-rounder in 2007. Peterson, 21, was a second-round selection in 2008.

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