Greetings from the first really textbook Florida Spring Training day we’ve had so far. Temperatures got up into the 70s, it was bright and sunny, really a gorgeous day.
Camp is beginning to settle into a daily rhythm, with more bullpen sessions, pitchers’ fielding practice, and the like. Full-squad workouts begin in three days.
* First, some ‘breaking news’ — I just saw Matt Holliday dropped off, so he’s likely to begin working out tomorrow. Only a few players still have not been seen. Turnout so far is really excellent, it seems.
* Ryan Franklin said he’s working on refining his cut fastball this spring, something he started doing last year. He’s essentially replaced his slider with a smaller, tighter cutter. He’s thrown it a good bit inside to left-handed hitters, and now he intends to throw it more to righties.
“It’s not big, like a [Brad] Lidge slider,” Franklin said. “It’s just enough to get off the barrel. It’s a groundball, broken-bat [pitch]. The success I had last year was being able to get quick outs. Everybody knows I’m going to throw strikes and I’m going to be around the plate. So if I throw something middle-away and it looks like it’s going to stay there, then it breaks off, it might get a weak groundball.”
* Franklin said he threw this winter at the University of Oklahoma’s indoor football practice facility, a welcome advantage since the weather near his home was so bad. He’s a big OU backer.
* One more Franklin note: he was not thrilled about MLB’s new policy banning deadly weapons from the clubhouse. Franklin is one of several players who have brought hunting bows into the clubhouse, and he said he’s licensed to carry a firearm as well.
“I understand it,” he said. “But if you grew up around being outdoors and hunting and stuff, I was taught as a young kid how to respect firearms. First of all, you don’t do anything stupid with it. Always treat a gun like it’s loaded. It’s stuff that I taught my son and daughters. There’s a place for them.
“We’ve got a lot of outdoorsmen on this team, a lot of guys who grew up handling things like that. I don’t know. I kind of disagree with it, but if it gets in the wrong hands, it could be a problem.”
* Dennys Reyes has settled on No. 36 after pondering going back to his old No. 37. He said that when he left the park yesterday, he would keep an eye on how many 6s and how many 7s he saw — and he saw a lot more 6s on license plates. So 36 it is.
* La Russa said he wouldn’t rule out anyone but Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday and the pitcher from batting in the No. 2 spot this year. It’s very difficult to envision Yadier Molina batting there, but La Russa jokingly (I think he was joking) said just wait until Opening Day and we’ll see it.
He also said that given Holliday’s presence behind Pujols in the order, the Cardinals may be more inclined to put on plays with their No. 2 hitter. That’s because they feel that Pujols batting with an open base is less of a problem than it would have been before Holliday’s arrival.
* TLR said he welcomes Mitchell Page back to the organization. Page was named the hitting coach at Class A Quad Cities.
“I’m really excited,” he said. “This is a guy who’s got a lot of goodness to him, and he was very popular in the system. All the young hitters really liked him. and when he finally got that big league opportunity, he had a real connection with hitters. And then he had a problem that I think is solved now. He’s a talented guy that we welcome back.”
* One last TLR note. Asked about Matt Pagnozzi, he refused to rule out Bryan Anderson from being the first catcher the Cardinals turn to if they needed someone besides Yadier Molina and Jason LaRue.
“It’s another year for ‘Andy.’ He’s a year older. He joined us at such an early age that we try not to make the mistake of penalizing him for [having been] here as a baby. He’s been here three, four, five years, and he’s still a baby. He’s still young. We’ll see what Anderson is. but he’s got a chore there, because Pagnozzi is excellent defensively.”
Living Colour, “Young Man”
White Rabbits, “Percussion Gun”
Bob Mould, “Spiraling Down”
R.E.M., “Crush With Eyeliner”
Muse, “Stockholm Syndrome”