March 2010

Pujols, Holliday scratched

Cardinals sluggers Matt Holliday and Albert Pujols have both been scratched from the team’s lineup on Wednesday due to injury. 
Pujols is out for a third straight day due to what he characterized as weakness in his lower back. He first felt some discomfort in the area on Saturday. Pujols said the pain has just about vanished from the area, but he’s still working through some weakness. He is hoping to return to the lineup this weekend.
Holliday has what the club is calling “soreness in his right ribcage.” He was in the training room and not available to speak to reporters when the home clubhouse at Roger Dean Stadium was open prior to game time on Wednesday afternoon.
Both Pujols and Holliday were originally in the lineup posted on Wednesday morning. At midmorning, Pujols was moved from first base to designated hitter, and later removed. Holliday was a late scratch.
In their stead, David Freese started at designated hitter and in the No. 3 spot in the batting order, and Nick Stavinoha started at left field and cleanup.

Wednesday lineups (including Pujols and Duncan); tidbits to follow — UPDATED

Albert Pujols returns to the lineup today after sitting out two days with a sore back. That adds up to a lineup that looks an awful lot like what I expect them to use on Opening Day (save for the DH and starting pitcher, of course). Additionally, Chris Duncan made the trip down from Viera and is in the Nationals’ lineup.

CORRECTION — Pujols has been moved to DH, Craig to 1B.
Cardinals lineup:
1. Schumaker 2B
2. Lopez 3B
3. Pujols DH
4. Holliday LF
5. Rasmus CF
6. Ludwick RF
7. Molina C
8. Craig 1B
9. Greene SS
Penny RHP
Other available pitchers: Boggs, Franklin, Lynn, S.Miller, Samuel, Parise. 
Backup pitchers: Norrick, Sanchez
Nationals lineup
1. Harris 2B
2. Desmond SS
3. Duncan DH
4. Dunn 1B
5. Morse LF
6. Maxwell CF
7. Rodriguez C
8. Dukes RF
9. Orr 3B
Mock, RHP

Tuesday Spring Training lineup and tidbits

Hello from Hammond Stadium in beautiful Fort Myers. We got some rain this morning, but it’s gone now and apparently we’re in for another gorgeous Florida day.

Today’s Cardinals lineup vs. RHP Carl Pavano and the Twins:
1. Schumaker 2B
2. Lugo SS
3. Rasmus CF
4. Holliday LF
5. Ludwick RF
6. Freese 3B
7. Descalso DH
8. Mather 1B
9. LaRue C
Wainwright P
Pitchers also on the list: Boggs, S.Miller, Ottavino, Parise, Perez, Salas, Samuel, Zink, Lynn
And the tidbits…
* Allen Craig is expected to make his 2010 game debut tomorrow, likely at first base or DH. They’ll probably still hold him out of the outfield. Craig is recuperating from soreness in his left quadriceps.
* TLR said this morning that there likely won’t be any more cuts this week. He had initially indicated that there might be two rounds, one before the Fort Myers trip and one after. However, it seems that all the moves they were going to make, they went ahead and made on Sunday — since several of the players who were cut, are on the trip.
* Daniel Descalso is in the lineup today in part because his parents are in attendance. Descalso has also swung the bat well this spring, and he adds another lefty bat to the lineup.
* Hammond Stadium has a bit of a homecoming feel for La Russa. He’s good friends with ex-Twins manager Tom Kelly, and in fact broke off his session with us to go chat with Kelly. He also has a long history with Fort Myers groundskeeper George Toma, who is one of the very best in his field of endeavor. Toma, among other things, is in charge of field preparation for the Super Bowl.
Today’s playlist:
Depeche Mode, “A Pain That I’m Used To”
Sisters of Mercy, “Lucretia My Reflection”
Mission UK, “Wasteland”
Shriekback, “Nemesis”
Cure, “Primary”
(Listened to Darkwave on Sirius/XM First Wave on Sunday night… all still stuck in my head, great stuff)

Monday Spring Training tidbits

It was a truly spectacular day in Fort Myers, the nicest day yet. Here’s hoping it continues.

You’ve probably already read about the day’s biggest story, Albert Pujols’ sore back. No one seems too concerned at this point.
Other stories to look for on the site this afternoon/evening include a ditty on Brendan Ryan’s soft-toss session and a longer look at Chris Carpetner after his first game of the spring. As for the tidbits, here they are…
* TLR said that he expects Shelby Miller to pitch in tomorrow’s game against the Twins in Fort Myers. 
* We talked to John Mozeliak about a few different things this morning, including whether the club has its eye on any more moves before the season starts. Here’s his answer:
“Most people, you put your club together in the offseason and you want to see how it really looks. That’s the sense I get from around the league as well.”
Asked a follow-up question specifically about whether they’re seeking right-handed relief, he said this:
“Not particularly. I want to see how these guys throw. The bullpen, in a sense, could work itself out depending on who the fifth [starter] is. I think patience is important there.”
* Trever Miller wasn’t sharp in today’s game, walking two batters. Afterward, he said he’s going to “attempt to not walk anybody else the rest of the spring.” He was frustrated but not worried about his inning.
Today’s playlist:
Neon Trees, “Animal”
The Temper Trap, “Sweet Disposition”
Ting Tings, “Shut Up And Let Me Go”
Vampire Weekend, “Giving Up the Gun”
Cribs, “We Share the Same Skies”

Sunday lineups and pitchers

Lineups for this afternoon’s Marlins-Cardinals game at Roger Dean Stadium. St. Louis is listed as the home team today.

1. Lugo SS
2. Lopez 2B
3. Ludwick RF
4. Holliday LF
5. Molina C
6. Freese 3B
7. Stavinoha DH
8. Mather 1B
9. Robinson CF
McClellan P
Additional Cardinals pitchers: Hill, Reyes, Norrick, Hawksworth, Kinney
In reserve: Motte, Miller, Parise
1. Maybin CF
2. Murphy 2B
3. Ramirez SS
4. Cantu 3B
5. Sanchez 1B
6. Carroll RF
7. Petersen LF
8. Hayes C
9. West LHP

Saturday Spring Training tidbits: Lopez, Boggs, Lynn, more

Every day is prettier than the one before these days in Jupiter. Still sunny, a yet a little warmer again today. It’s feeling like Florida.

* Felipe Lopez made his game debut today, a day earlier than TLR had said yesterday and two days sooner than he had said earlier this week.
“I was going to play him tomorrow,” La Russa said. “But then talking to him yesterday, he said he was OK, ready to go. I said good, there’s a spot. Freese has played two days in a row. We’ll get him out of there and it’s yours.”
* Lance Lynn gave the most impressive performance by a Cardinals pitcher thus far (admittedly, it’s a small selection to choose from) when he went three perfect innings on Friday. It’s way too early to start going crazy about something like this, but Lynn is one of the more interesting pitchers in the system.
“You give him credit for what it is,” La Russa said. “There’s the old thing about early in the spring versus later in the spring. He was able to master command of several pitches, and that usually gives hitters trouble. Now, if he can continue to do that, that’s a good thing to do the rest of the time. Hitters will get a little sharper. But I thought he handled himself as far as cool and composure, I thought that was really good.”
* Mitchell Boggs, meanwhile, had a tough outing in his 2010 debut on Friday. He allowed three runs in his second inning. And just as the manager didn’t get too far ahead of things with Lynn’s good showing, he was equally reserved regarding Boggs’ rocky one.
“It already has been explained to him, and we’ll probably explain it again,” he said. “If you give up some hits, figure out what you could do differently or better, right? If you’re going out there, you hang a breaking ball and the guy pops it up, [and you think], ‘Hey, I had a good outing,’ that’s [not good]. Really, you’re supposed to be very frank with yourself. I think he wants to well because he wants to make the club.”
* The Cardinals play in Fort Myers on Monday (against the Red Sox) and Tuesday (against the Twins), and there will be two buses going each way. Some players will go over Monday, and some will go on Tuesday. Meanwhile, of those who go Monday, some will come back the same day, and some will stay to play the second game.
* Some cuts may come as early as Sunday night before the road trip, and another round could come when the club gets back from Ft. Myers.
Today’s playlist:
Chromeo, “Destination Overdrive”
Iggy Pop, “Nightclubbing”
New Order, “Temptation”
Muse, “Time Is Running Out”
Cut Copy, “Lights & Music”

Saturday lineup; tidbits to follow

Saturday’s Cardinals lineup against the Marlins and RHP Josh Johnson:

1. Schumaker 2B
2. Lopez 3B
3. Pujols 1B
4. Rasmus CF
5. Stavinoha DH
6. Jay LF
7. LaRue C
8. Henley RF
9. Greene SS
Lohse RHP
Other pitchers listed on the card: Garcia, Norrick, Franklin, Perez, Salas
Available backup pitchers: Reyes, Hawksworth, Kinney

Friday Spring Training tidbits: Ryan, Craig, Lopez, Boggs and more

It’s starting to warm up today, and the sky is as perfectly blue as can be here at Roger Dean Stadium. It’s time for the spring home opener. Here are the tidbits:

* Brendan Ryan keeps moving forward, and he’s planning to take soft toss on Monday. The hope would be that a week after that, he could take batting practice, which would mean game at-bats no sooner than March 22. He’s still a ways off but moving forward.
Ryan and TLR were asked about the possibility of Ryan appearing as a defensive replacement or baserunner in a game sooner than that. Neither dismissed it out of hand, but it doesn’t seem very likely at this point.
* Allen Craig took live BP again today, and he seems very close to OK as he deals with a sore left quadriceps. But the team is going to be very cautious with him. It still sounds like he’ll sit out all weekend.
* Felipe Lopez, meanwhile, might make his debut on Sunday. The target had originally been Monday, but TLR sounded today like that could be bumped up a day.
* Mitchell Boggs makes his spring debut today, and the aim is for him to throw about 30 pitches. That’s a bit shorter than some of the starters have been throwing — some have already done 40 pitches in two simulated innings. 
Boggs is not going to be kept exclusively short this spring. He’ll be stretched out some. But it remains evident that the most likely destination for him is the bullpen. I don’t expect he’ll be stretched out in the same way as even someone like Blake Hawksworth.
“He needs to pitch,” La Russa said. “He needs to work on his pitches.”
That means he won’t be going one-inning-only early in camp. But I expect his path will diverge from those of the starters sooner than some other guys’ will.
* One spot that remains open is for a swingman in the bullpen, like what Brad Thompson did in recent years: someone who can pitch long relief, take a spot start and do other duties as assigned. Hawksworth is one pitcher who may factor in that race, but there’s also something to be said for a left-hander in that job.
That may be where Rule 5 Draftee Ben Jukich fits in. A third tactical lefty wouldn’t make much sense for the Cardinals. But a left-hander who can go multiple innings, and make an occasional start, might have real value. Jaime Garcia, however, likely would not be that pitcher.
Today’s playlist:
Letters to Cleo, “Veda Very Shining”
Material Issue, “Li’l Christine”
Dramarama, “Anything Anything”
R.E.M., “Living Well Is the Best Revenge”
Elvis Costello, “Radio Radio”

Friday lineup; tidbits to follow

The lineup for the Cardinals’ Friday home game against Fernando Nieve and the Mets. First pitch is set for 12:05 p.m. CT.

(Apologies — I wrote Niese this morning. It’s Nieve.)
1. Lugo 2B
2. Rasmus CF
3. Pujols 1B
4. Holliday LF
5. Ludwick RF
6. Molina C
7. Freese 3B
8. Mather DH
9. Greene SS
Penny RHP
Additional pitchers on the lineup card: Jukich, Boggs, Lynn, Salas

Thursday Spring Training tidbits: Craig, contracts, Lugo, more

Greetings from Port St. Lucie, where the sun is shining brightly and the wind is blowing briskly. The Cardinals are taking batting practice as I write this, and there will be a baseball game in an hour and a half. Life is good.


Anyway, on with the tidbits.

* Allen Craig has a sore left quadriceps muscle and was scratched from the travel roster today. He’s likely out for a few days.

* The Cardinals agreed to terms on 2010 contracts with all 24 of their pre-arbitration players. I’ll have stories on each of these top two topics on the site a little bit later today.
* TLR said that several factors played into his leaving some of the team’s top stars back in Jupiter today. One is the fact that the Mets are starting knuckleballer R.A. Dickey. Another, though, is that they’re going to hit live off of Adam Wainwright.
Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday, Yadier Molina and Felipe Lopez (plus youngster Tyler Henley for left-handed balance) are all hitting off of Wainwright back at camp.
One factor that went unmentioned: it’s nice to have the biggest stars play in the first home spring game, which is tomorrow.
* Veteran position players will likely get 2-3 at-bats today.
* From the pitchers who made the trip today (see the list here), three are not expected to pitch: Lance Lynn, Ben Jukich and Fernando Salas. They are here as protection, in case some of the scheduled pitchers are not able to last as long as hoped.
* TLR said that Julio Lugo has a chance to make an impression at shortstop this spring, and that his defense there is something of an unknown. Lugo was once a plus defensive shortstop, before knee troubles hampered him significantly. 
“Tyler [Greene] will play the second half today, and Tyler will start there tomorrow,” the manager said. “Julio can definitely make an impression there.
“It’s unknown because it’s a brand new year. I knew him before he had his knee injury. Now it’s a year later. He’s in as good a shape as anybody we have in camp. He’s in great shape. He looks like he’s 25 years old.”
Today’s playlist is simple and classic. It’s side one of the Rolling Stones’ Exile On Main Street, which I played on the way up this morning.
“Rocks Off”
“Rip This Joint”
“Shake Your Hips”
“Casino Boogie”
“Tumbling Dice”