September 2009

Smoltz scratched; Wellemeyer to start

Cardinals right-hander John Smoltz has been scratched from his scheduled Monday start due to tendinitis in his right shoulder. He expects to take his next turn, on Sunday, Sept. 20 at home against the Cubs. Todd Wellemeyer will pitch in Smoltz’s place on Monday.

Smoltz downplayed the issue, but was still appreciative of the chance to get the needed rest. He received a shot of anti-inflammatory medicine to ease the pain he was feeling, and will not throw a bullpen session between now and when he makes his next start.

“At this point, the easy thing to do is give me rest and I’ll be ready,” Smoltz said. “I’ll be fine. I’ve pitched through all kinds of tendinitis before. But at this point, it gives me a nice opportunity to give me five days off and feel good about my next start. … Certainly, like I’ve said many times before, if it was a playoff start, I’m sure I could have cranked it up. Any tendinitis, once you get heated, you’re fine.”

Manager Tony La Russa didn’t hesitate to give Smoltz the break.

“He’s got a little tendinitis in his shoulder, so we’ll get him some treatment,” manager Tony La Russa said. “He said he’s had it before. We’ll slip Wellemeyer in on Monday and plan on John for next weekend.”

The Cardinals had several potential candidates for the spot, including Mitchell Boggs and Brad Thompson. Boggs acquitted himself well in recent starts but will remain in the bullpen. Wellemeyer scuffled in an earlier start against Florida this year, but La Russa pointed to two very good starts for the right-hander against the Marlins in 2008.

“Boggs was considered,” La Russa said. “I think Todd was the better choice. He pitched well against them last year. It’s a good assignment for him.”

Smoltz has been a revelation since signing with the Cardinals as a free agent three weeks ago. He’s 1-1 with a 3.27 ERA in four starts and has struck out 28 against one walk. But for one start it will be Wellemeyer, who has struggled this year but said he was encouraged following a bullpen session on Friday night.

“I feel like I’m actually behind the ball for the first time,” Wellemeyer said. “It actually has something on it. So that’s good. Unfortunately, it’s taken me until September to figure this out.”

Wednesday tidbits: Holliday, Rasmus, Ludwick, Smoltz, more

Matthew Leach
MLB.com

Blog: Obviously, You’re Not a Golfer
Twitter: @MatthewHLeach

It’s time for some tidbits as I prepare to head home from Milwaukee. This is the best kind of road trip: one that only involves two nights away from home. Will be nice to have the off day before settling in for a nine-game homestand, starting on Friday.

Hopefully I’ll have a Lucky Seven for you tomorrow, plus I’ll be filing an off-day story that will go up on the site during the day. And for any Achievers in St. Louis, don’t forget that tomorrow night, they’ll be screening The Big Lebowski outdoors at Third Degree Glass Factory.

Anyway, on with the tidbits:

* Matt Holliday played down his bruised knee after Wednesday’s game. Still, it can only help that the Cardinals are off on Thursday. See my story on it, with video, at this link.

* Colby Rasmus said he wasn’t really feeling much better on Wednesday than on Tuesday, but he was back in the lineup.

“It don’t seem like nothing that serious to me,” he said. “I’ve played through worse.”

* TLR also said that Ryan Ludwick had a bit of an issue on Tuesday night, dealing with some cramping in his legs. But he said Ludwick checked out fine upon arriving on Wednesday, so there was no hesitation to play him.

* Couldn’t fit this in anywhere on Tuesday night, but John Smoltz said something interesting after the game that night.

“I’ve been told I’m going to start the rest of the year,” he said.

This isn’t exactly earth-shattering, as most of you could probably have figured it out. But TLR has yet to commit so firmly to it, so it was fairly noteworthy.

* During the scribes’ morning chat with the skipper today, we got some more idea of what the callups will look like, once they take place. It sounds like David Freese will not be coming up, as the Cardinals are having a hard enough time getting the guys they have into games at third base. On the other hand, Tyler Greene sounds like he probably will be getting a call.

Beyond that, of course, they expect to call up a third catcher (presumably Matt Pagnozzi) and a left-handed reliever (presumably Royce Ring).

* One more thing off of Tuesday night’s game: speaking of the play where he was visibly annoyed at Brendan Ryan’s baserunning, TLR let Ryan off the hook. He said that at first, he had thought Ryan had gone without the sign from the dugout. But instead, he explained that what happened was a miscommunication between himself and Dave McKay, and Ryan was doing what McKay had indicated he should do.

Today’s playlist comes straight from my iPod. The following sequence came up on shuffle, in this exact order. It was a fun drive to the park this morning.

Mike Doughty, “Sunken-Eyed Girl”
Nine Inch Nails, “1,000,000″
Public Enemy, “Welcome to the Terrordome”
Madonna, “Borderline”
White Rabbits, “Leave It at the Door”

And now, I’m off to catch my flight home.

-M.

Wednesday lineups; tidbits to follow

Cardinals lineup vs. RHP Jeff Suppan:
1. Schumaker 2B
2. Rasmus CF
3. Pujols 1B
4. Holliday LF
5. Ludwick RF
6. DeRosa 3B
7. Molina C
8. Ryan SS
9. Wainwright P

Brewers lineup:
1. Lopez 2B
2. Counsell 3B
3. Braun LF
4. Fielder 1B
5. Hart RF
6. Gerut CF
7. Kendall C
8. Escobar SS
9. Suppan P

-M.

Tuesday tidbits: DeRosa, Ludwick, Rasmus, Franklin, rotation, callups

Matthew Leach
MLB.com

Blog: Obviously, You’re Not a Golfer
Twitter: MatthewHLeach

Hello on another really nice evening in Milwaukee — though I have to say, I’m not thrilled about the ever-decreasing daylight. Had a very nice run by the lake, two different Alterra stops at two different Alterra cafes, and then a very tasty lunch with the esteemed Joe Posnanski at Sobelman’s before heading to the park.

Anyway, on with the tidbits, of which there are many.

* Mark DeRosa was back in the lineup today after missing three games due to back discomfort he first felt in Milwaukee. Also, John Mozeliak said this afternoon that the club has in fact had some very preliminary discussions with DeRosa’s representation about keeping him beyond this year — though he emphasized not to over-sell those discussions.

“In this specific case,” Mozeliak said, “we do have some dialogue but I want to leave it at that.”

* Also from this afternoon’s conversation with the GM: Mozeliak said that the club does not currently plan to pursue a long-term deal with Ryan Ludwick this winter. Ludwick is under the team’s control for the next two seasons, so they don’t need to lock him up. They can instead go through the arbitration process, as they did last winter.

* One last thing from that session: Mozeliak said that it’s likely the Cardinals will carry 14 position players and 11 pitchers on their playoff roster.

* Colby Rasmus sat out a second straight game tonight and is likely to be out again tomorrow. He’s dealing with continuing soreness in his left heel, and in fact it has spread a bit. Previously, Rasmus was only feeling pain in the bottom of his foot. But he said Tuesday that he’s now feeling something a little higher, “under [his] Achilles’” tendon.

Still, it doesn’t sound like this is anything too severe. The expectation seems to be that he’ll play Friday, after tomorrow’s day game and the off day on Thursday. It’s still being called a “day-to-day” situation.

* Ryan Franklin is unavailable again today, and likely tomorrow as well. But TLR emphasized that it’s just rest, not an injury issue.

* Mitchell Boggs is listed as an available reliever, starting today. Kyle Lohse is available to pitch out of the pen tonight, but after this game he will not be out there anymore.

* The rotation for the weekend will be Joel Pineiro on Friday, Lohse on Saturday and Carpenter on Sunday, with Carpenter getting an extra day of rest due to the off day. The question will be Monday, where they can either keep Adam Wainwright on his fifth day or go with Smoltz on five days’ rest followed by Wainwright on five days’ rest on Tuesday.

The latter is much more likely. TLR has indicated that they’re probably going to give the starters the extra day as much as possible down the stretch.

* After a couple of days of back and forth, it now is pretty much settled: the Cardinals will not call up any players from Triple-A Memphis until that team has been eliminated from the playoffs. Memphis begins a best-of-five series against Albuquerque on Wednesday, with Jaime Garcia starting. The series continues on Thursday in Albuquerque, followed by games Friday, Saturday and Sunday in Memphis. Obviously the last two games are on an if-necessary basis.

Tonight’s playlist:
Muse, “Undisclosed Desires”
U2, “Zooropa”
The Shamen, “Move Any Mountain”
The Postal Service, “Nothing Better”
Soul Coughing, “Lazybones”

-M.

Tuesday lineups; tidbits to follow

Cardinals lineup vs LHP Manny Parra:
1. Lugo 2B
2. Ryan SS
3. Pujols 1B
4. Holliday LF
5. Ludwick RF
6. DeRosa 3B
7. Molina C
8. Ankiel CF
9. Smoltz P

Brewers lineup
1. Patterson CF
2. Counsell 2B
3. Braun LF
4. Fielder 1B
5. McGehee 3B
6. Gerut RF
7. Hardy SS
8. Kendall C
9. Parra P

-M.

Monday tidbits: Franklin, DeRosa, rotation

Hello on an absolutely spectacular day in Milwaukee — as nice as I’ve ever seen in eight years of coming here.

* Ryan Franklin acknowledged that his command hasn’t been as sharp lately as he’d like, but he’s not overly concerned just yet. Still, he’s going to get a couple of days off, and maybe the entire series.

* Mark DeRosa is likewise minimizing his back soreness. He said today that he’s getting better, and that “if the situation was different, I would be playing.” He took BP and infield today and should be in there any day now.

* Kyle Lohse will be available in the bullpen today and perhaps tomorrow, and then will start on Saturday. Mitchell Boggs will be bumped to the bullpen. It sounds as though John Smoltz will be staying in the rotation for the foreseeable future as well.

Today’s playlist:
Weezer, “I Want You To”
Romeo Void, “A Girl in Trouble”
Hockey, “Too Fake”
Depeche Mode, “Everything Counts”
Happy Mondays, “Step On”

-M.

Monday lineup; tidbits to follow

Lineup vs RHP Dave Bush:

1. Schumaker 2B
2. Ankiel CF
3. Pujols 1B
4. Holliday LF
5. Ludwick RF
6. Glaus 3B
7. Molina C
8. Ryan SS
9. Carpenter P

-M.

Lucky Seven, Footballmas edition

Trying to get Lucky Seven back into regular rotation. Slowly, surely building.

1. Who will finish with the best record in the National League?

2. How SHOULD John Smoltz be used in the postseason? How WILL he be used?

3. What one player not currently on the roster do you most hope gets a callup?

4. Which Cardinals will win major postseason awards? (MVP, Cy Young, Rookie, Manager)

5. Who wins the college football national title this year?

6. Who will win the men’s US Open? Women?

7. What’s your favorite seasonal coffee beverage? Mrs. Dude is big on the Pumpkin Spice, which debuted this week and is why I ask. I love the Peppermint Mocha. If you have a favorite that doesn’t come from the Empire, that’s great, would love to hear it.

-M.

Thursday tidbits: Wellemeyer, Thompson, callups

Not a lot of tidbits today as the club prepares to head out on a weeklong road trip.

* Todd Wellemeyer was activated from the disabled list, bringing the active roster up to 27 players. Kyle Lohse should be activated on Sunday, the first day he is eligible. Story from B.J. Rains is live on the site at this link.

* Brad Thompson’s suspension has been reduced to two games, and he began serving it on Thursday. That still isn’t sitting very well with him or the club, but that’s what they’ve got.

* TLR said today that he does not expect any more callups until Memphis’ season is over. There had been some thought that a third catcher or a LH reliever might come up before the Triple-A team finishes up, but it sounds as though that won’t be the case.

Today’s playlist:
The Asteroids Galaxy Tour, “Around the Bend”
Teddybears, “Cobrastyle”
Garbage, “When I Grow Up”
Crystal Method, “Dirty Thirty”
Bad Lieutenant, “Sink Or Swim”

-M.

Tuesday tidbits: Lohse, Miller, Franklin, Glaus, Wellemeyer, Smoltz, DeRosa

Matthew Leach
MLB.com

Blog: Obviously, You’re Not a Golfer
Twitter: MatthewHLeach

Lots and lots of tidbits tonight, which also meant plenty of stories for the main site, which is why the tidbits are so late tonight. But here they are on a spectacular, darn-near-perfect night at Busch Stadium.

* Kyle Lohse threw two simulated innings today to Rick Ankiel and Troy Glaus, and his stuff was pretty decent. His command was a bit rusty, but that’s to be expected for a guy who’s been on the DL. He hopes to be activated on the day he’s eligible, which is this Sunday, Sept. 7. Check out B.J. Rains’ story on it at this link. They’re expecting to add Lohse as a reliever at first, then work him back into the rotation, but they’ll take their time with that due to the off days.

* Ryan Franklin and Trever Miller agreed to new contracts on Tuesday. Franklin’s is a two-year deal for 2010 and 2011, replacing his 2010 club option. Miller’s is actually a two-year deal that replaces his 2009 contract, essentially guaranteeing him all the money he could have made with incentives this year and paying him $2 million next year. In essence, it’s the deal he agreed to the deal he WOULD have had if he hadn’t failed his physical over the winter — with one exception.

The change is that Miller now gets a vesting option for 2011. Full details on the deals will be up in my story at this link very shortly.

* Troy Glaus was activated from the DL today. He’ll be mostly a pinch-hitter for the time being. Other reinforcements will come along before too long, but perhaps not until Memphis’ season is finished. The Triple-A club is in a pennant race. My Glaus story can be found at this link.

* Todd Wellemeyer had a very rough outing at Triple-A last night — four runs in 2/3-inning, and only 10 of his 27 pitches went for strikes. He remains on track to make another rehab assignment tomorrow night, but suffice it to say that game didn’t hasten his return to a prominent place on the big club.

* John Mozeliak acknowledged that the club may well have some interest in bringing John Smoltz back as a starter next year.

* Mark DeRosa has been cleared to return to the lineup. However, his 2-for-20 mark against Braden Looper means that Joe Thurston got the start tonight instead.

Tonight’s playlist is all Living Colour, in honor of tonight’s opening night of their fall tour.

“Desperate People”
“Pride”
“Type”
“Postman”
“Back in Black” (Yes, they covered it. Yes, it’s AWESOME)

-M.

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