Another warm, sunny day in Jupiter today, though it sounds like rain is coming soon.
Lots and lots of news out of Cardinals camp today, and of course some of it is already on the site — most notably Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday being scratched. But as for what’s not on the site, here goes…
* Allen Craig doubled and homered in his first Grapefruit League game of the year, and he caught TLR’s attention. La Russa’s comments on Craig after the game were really striking, and definitely worth taking note of.
“It shows me that we better pay attention every time he hits,” La Russa said. “What did I say before the game? He’ll have to hit his way on the team, right? … A guy hangs a changeup 2-0 and he gets to it, that’s impressive.
“We didn’t have a lot of other guys center it against him. Mock, I like his arm. [Craig] will be out there again tomorrow.”
Asked if Craig might be the kind of player who could help as a pinch-hitter, La Russa answered:
“I don’t want to assign any roles to him till he gets on the club. I just think, take a look at him. I know that they say that in the last couple of months, he was as good as any hitter there was in the PCL. He really got it going. And this is his first action since then, and he gets two hits. So, what did you see? He’s here. he came in to get a shot, and he’s overcome the [quadriceps injury] and he’s got a lot of the spring left.”
Craig himself, meanwhile, had a philosophical comment on his attempt to hit his way onto the team:
“That’s what I’m good at,” he said. “I’m good at hitting. So that’s what I’m going to have to do to make the team. I don’t think that’s really anything new.”
* Also catching the attention of the field staff was Shelby Miller, who pitched a scoreless seventh inning.
“I was really impressed,” La Russa said. “Dunc has been saying this young guy has really got a good idea already. The one [wild] pitch was a cross-up. I thought he had good stuff. his composure was outstanding.
“He had some of the best composure out there for any pitcher on either side today. That’s a good test. He’s out there for the first time. he could have been a lot shakier than that and we’d have said, ‘Hey, what’s the big deal, as long as you’ve got talent.’ But he’s really impressive.”
* Mitchell Boggs gave up a home run, but overall showed significant progress from his first outing. He struck out three, didn’t walk anyone and was better in his second inning than his first.
* No additional cuts are likely until the end of the weekend.
* I mentioned on Twitter today how impressed I was by what Chris Duncan had to say regarding his last couple of years and his parting of ways with the Cardinals. I only got a little bit of it in the story, so I wanted to include some more here. It really stood out to me how mature, self-aware and reasonable he was about the whole situation.
Asked about the day he was traded: “It was kind of weird. But obviously they were getting ready to get Holliday and somebody had to go. I wasn’t playing well. It was probably better for me to go somewhere else where I might have a better opportunity. We had so many good outfielders and we were trading for a great player.”
And this is the main stuff. Asked about whether he had any hard feelings, or anything like that:
“It was kind of tough at the end. I remember the last game I started at home, I was getting booed. And then they put Rick in and the whole crowd erupted. That’s not easy to take. You try to block it out and stay focused, but I definitely felt like it was not going good.
“The bottom line is I wasn’t playing well, and we were competing for a pennant. Every opportunity that I got that I didn’t play well was costing the team games. I think that was the toughest thing for me. Every time [La Russa] wrote me in the lineup, I just so badly wanted to contribute and do something to help the team win. I felt like I was able to do that at the beginning, but more and more, as the season went on, I wasn’t doing that. It was tough. I felt like I was letting the guys down more than anything.
“I think when I got traded we were only one game up. All those games, and every opportunity I had to play was a chance to do something to help the team win. and when I didn’t, it was tough on me.
“I know what it means to get written into a Major League lineup for a winning team. I just kept trying to tell myself that every time I’m in there, I had a chance to do something to help the team win. I just tried to stay focused. But I think I ended like 1-for-36 or something? I wasn’t helping the team. they had a chance to bring in a great outfielder that could take them the distance. So I understand.”
Some people are going to seize on the one short bit where he talks about being booed. But seriously. Read the whole thing. A lot of grace, a lot of class. To be admired, in my opinion.
No playlist, because this is already way too late.