March 2010

Thursday lineup

Here is the Cardinals lineup for Thursday’s Grapefruit League opener against the Mets:

1. Schumaker 2B
2. Lugo SS
3. Stavinoha DH
4. Ludwick RF
5. Rasmus CF
6. Freese 3B
7. Mather 1B
8. Jay LF
9. LaRue C
MacLane, P
-M.

Wednesday camp tidbits: T-minus one day

A chilly, gray, windy morning has given way to a beautiful afternoon/evening here in Jupiter, but it’s not expected to get back to normal for another few days.
* The bus heads north at 9:15 a.m. ET tomorrow morning, and the travel roster is unsurprisingly a bit light on veteran stars. Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday, Yadier Molina and of course the injured Brendan Ryan are not on the list. They should all make their Grapefruit League debuts on Friday at home.
* Also not on the travel list is Felipe Lopez, who may not play for a few days.
“Felipe is joining us several days late, so I don’t know that he’ll play the first weekend,” TLR said on Wednesday morning. “He may not play till we get to Monday or Tuesday. I just want to make sure that his legs, especially, and his arm are in game condition. I think he worked out before he came down here, but it’s not the same.”
* Speaking of Lopez, he figures to get some outfield time down here. La Russa has been pretty emphatic about pointing that out. When someone asks about Lopez’s playing time in the infield, the manager pretty much always points out that he’s an outfield option as well.
Moreover, he’s even considered to be a possibility for some time in center field. However, the staff will want to see Lopez play some center down here in Florida before he gets thrown out there in a game that counts.
* The pitchers making the trip to Port St. Lucie tomorrow: Ben Jukich, Adam Ottavino, Francisco Samuel, Lance Lynn, Evan MacLane, Fernando Salas, Eduardo Sanchez and Charlie Zink. R.A. Dickey is scheduled to pitch for the Mets.
* Ryan Franklin’s first game appearance is set for Saturday.
* The Cardinals played two brief “coaches games” today, simultaneously. In the game I watched, a team featuring the starting outfielders defeated a team consisting of many catchers by a 3-1 score. However, La Russa announced at the end of the session, “Tied! Everybody goes to Fort Myers.”
In the past — though this is less common the past couple of years — the winning team in the last coaches’ game got to miss a long road trip.
Today’s playlist:
Aimee Mann, “I Should’ve Known”
Squeeze, “Black Coffee in Bed”
Neko Case, “People Got a Lotta Nerve”
Crowded House, “Something So Strong”
New Order, “Every Little Counts”
-M.

Tuesday camp tidbits: Whither the weather

The skies were very threatening early this morning (see the photo gallery for an idea of how threatening), but the Cards were able to get the bulk of their workout in. 

* Speaking of the weather, it did in fact affect the schedule today. The Cardinals started work one hour early, and compressed all of the live batting practice into a very short span. Pitchers were done throwing by 10 a.m. ET, which was good because some pretty heavy rain landed in Jupiter not long after that.
* Still, there were definitely some things to see while the workout went on. Kyle McClellan looked pretty sharp once again, while Rich Hill’s command wasn’t very sharp. They alternated simulated innings, and they should pitch on the same day going forward — starting with Sunday’s game against the Marlins. I’ve written this before, but it’s pretty clearly a two-horse race for the fifth starter spot unless they both really just implode.
* This morning brought the best play I’ve seen in camp so far, and most of my colleagues appeared to agree. On a double-play drill, Julio Lugo was playing shortstop. He ranged to his left, picked up the ball almost in front of the second-base bag, and flipped it between his legs to Skip Schumaker, who turned the double play. Terrific stuff, fun to see.
* Another from the fun-in-the-cage department, following yesterday’s jawing. Today, Albert Pujols was batting against McClellan. The right-hander threw him two fastballs, and Yadier Molina called them like a pitcher’s umpire — both strikes. Pujols took exception, and when McClellan threw him another fastball, Pujols scorched it up the middle for a sizzling liner.
I wish I could tell you exactly what he then said to Molina, but by Spanish is unfortunately still almost nonexistant. He definitely jabbed him verbally, though, and even gave him a playful poke in the chest with his bat. 
* ESPN’s Eduardo Perez made an appearance at camp today. Perez remains one of my favorite people I’ve ever covered as well as one of the most popular people in baseball. He got big hugs from everybody from the security personnel at the field to media members to players to coaches. Perez, a former Cardinal, is serving as the manager of the Puerto Rican national baseball team and also signed on for another year on Baseball Tonight.
* I was chided in the clubhouse today by Kyle Lohse, who disputed my account of his back-and-forth with Albert Pujols yesterday. Lohse is of the opinion that Pujols’ deep drive off of him yesterday was not, in fact, a home run — that it bounced on the warning track before clearing the fence. All I’ll say is, that’s a dusty, gravelly warning track — and I didn’t see one bit of dust kick up when the ball bounced.
* The Cardinals announced today that Spring Training radio broadcasts will begin on Saturday. Every Saturday and Sunday game, all spring, will be on KTRS and the Cardinals Radio Network. So will every Thursday game except this week’s Grapefruit League opener, and every Tuesday game except for March 9. It’s a total of 17 games.
Today’s playlist:
New Order, “Sub-Culture”
The Postal Service, “Nothing Better”
Joe Jackson, “Nineteen Forever”
Thomas Dolby, “She Blinded Me With Science”
INXS, “Need You Tonight/Mediate”
-M.

Tuesday Spring Training photo gallery

Some shots from a rainy day at camp. They just about got the whole workout done before the skies opened up.

March-2-workout-001.jpg March-2-workout-002.jpg March-2-workout-003.jpg March-2-workout-006.jpg March-2-workout-007.jpg March-2-workout-008.jpg
Above: dark skies over Jupiter; Kyle McClellan prepares to throw; Yadier Molina signs autographs; Rich Hill throws in live BP; Matt Holliday takes some cuts
March-2-workout-009.jpg March-2-workout-010.jpg March-2-workout-011.jpg March-2-workout-012.jpg March-2-workout-013.jpg March-2-workout-014.jpg
Above: Albert Pujols watches live BP; Mike Matheny looks on; palm trees blow in the wind; Albert Pujols takes a hack; Molina walks out to catch McClellan; McClellan throws
March-2-workout-015.jpg March-2-workout-016.jpg March-2-workout-017.jpg March-2-workout-021.jpg March-2-workout-022.jpg
Above: McClellan throws; Molina receives; Colby Rasmus takes a swing; Pujols’ shoe; David Freese and Joe Mather take grounders at third
March-2-workout-023.jpg March-2-workout-024.jpg March-2-workout-025.jpg March-2-workout-026.jpg March-2-workout-027.jpg
Above: More of Mather and Freese taking infield; Pujols and Mark Hamilton take groundballs at first; Tony La Russa, Jose Oquendo and Eduardo Perez watch the workout
March-2-workout-028.jpg March-2-workout-029.jpg
Above: Julio Lugo and Felipe Lopez take infield; Skip Schumaker works on double plays.
-M.

Monday camp tidbits: Pujols, fun in the cage, weather, Schumaker

Today was the nicest day we’ve had in a while down here, with more of that bright sunshine but also temperatures pushing the upper 60s. It gets even warmer tomorrow, but the forecast also calls for storms.

* TLR said this morning that the early game schedule for Albert Pujols will be about the same as it always is. Something like: one game, and then a day off; two games, then a day off; three games, then a day off. Pujols’ surgery this winter doesn’t make him any less available, and in fact the decreased discomfort in his elbow may make him a little bit more available.
* One of the more entertaining sessions of camp so far came on Field 6 this morning. 
Kyle Lohse was throwing live batting practice to the heart of the order: Pujols, Matt Holliday, Ryan Ludwick and Colby Rasmus.
Early in the session, Pujols hit a chopper up the middle that likely would have gone for a soft single, and said quite audibly, “That’s how you hit .300.”
Lohse shot back a comparison of Pujols to Ichiro, which drew a threw laughs — but perhaps wasn’t forgotten. The next time Pujols came up, he drilled a home run to left field, though he didn’t say a thing this time.
In line after Pujols was Holliday, who took a strike early in his ‘at-bat.’ Lohse playfully asked, “How do you take that?” Holliday didn’t say a word, but answered with his bat — he scorched the next pitch up the middle, a very hard-hit line drive that quite surely was a base hit.
Holliday still said nothing, but now Adam Wainwright piped in: “It’s a new year, Kyle. Last year that would have hit you!”
* Getting back to the weather: tomorrow’s storms could play havoc with the schedule, since it’s the only day the Cardinals have to work inside the main stadium before games start. However, TLR said it’s not really feasible to try to do anything in advance to account for that. Instead, the Cards will just try to get as much done as possible before the weather hits.
* Asked if he expected to see Skip Schumaker in the outfield this year, La Russa said he didn’t anticipate that happening very much at all.
Today’s playlist:
The Strokes, “Last Night”
The Breeders, “Divine Hammer”
The Libertines, “Can’t Stand Me Now”
Talking Heads, “And She Was”
Modest Mouse, “Gravity Rides Everything”
-M.
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