February 2011

Monday camp tidbits: Game on

* Nick Punto returned to camp Monday, his first day back after having surgery to repair his sports hernia. Punto is walking reasonably well, but that’s all he’s really allowed to do at this point. He also seemed to be in good spirits.

* TLR still seems quite committed to Lance Berkman in the fifth spot in the batting order, and sounds very open to Colby Rasmus in the two spot. Today it’s Ryan Theriot there, but that’s in part because Rasmus isn’t playing today.
* Rasmus and Yadier Molina, two of the regulars not in today’s lineup, are both expected to play tomorrow.
* David Freese, however, is not. Freese will not start any sooner than Thursday’s split-squad game, though he could pinch-hit before then.
* Cardinals players, coaches and TLR met with MLB umpire representatives on Monday morning, a meeting that TLR described as quite productive.
And, finally, the playlist:
Soundgarden, “Pretty Noose”
Rise Against, “Prayer of the Refugee”
Chevelle, “Vitamin R”
Against Me!, “White Crosses”
System of a Down, “Revenga”
-M.

Friday camp tidbits: A (gasp!) normal day?

Greetings from what, at the moment, appears to be a normal, relatively quiet day at camp. Here are some of the tidbits from this morning’s session with TLR. Of course, check the site as the day goes on for fleshed-out versions of most of this, as well as for a feature on Mitchell Boggs.

* Lance Berkman is getting a day off from most of the defensive drills. TLR described it as simply a maintenance day after Berkman went full-on the past two days.
* TLR said that David Freese is feeling great, but that they won’t want to push Freese. As a result, Freese will play some in the early games, but not a great deal. Allen Craig, Daniel Descalso and Ramon Vazquez will all be candidates for a start or two at third base. Tyler Greene will probably play more at shortstop than at third this spring.
* The Cardinals will try to have “coaches’ games” each of the next two days, though it may be tough tomorrow. The club has a Spring Training season-ticket-holders’ reception after tomorrow’s workout, limiting how late in the day they can go. A portion of tomorrow’s workout will take place within the stadium rather than on the practice fields.
* Shelby Miller’s opportunities to pitch in the main ‘A’ games will probably be reduced as a secondary consequence of Adam Wainwright’s injury. The new fifth-starter competition means that more pitchers will be stretched out longer, which could squeeze out some innings for Miller.
* Adam Ottavino is a little bit behind some of the other fifth-starter candidates, in part because he’s coming off of health issues and didn’t pitch at all at the end of last year. TLR said that if Ottavino is the best, the club wouldn’t hesitate to use him, but that he’s definitely starting at a disadvantage.
* Boggs is one pitcher who will NOT be considered to start, despite his past experience.
And today’s playlist…
The Beatles, “Oh! Darling”
Elvis Costello, “Deep Dark Truthful Mirror”
The White Stripes, “Ball & Biscuit”
Keith Richards, “999″
Gregg Allman, “Just Another Rider”
-M.

Club confirms Wainwright surgery

Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak announced Thursday morning that, as expected, ace Adam Wainwright will require reconstructive elbow surgery.
Wainwright, 29, will undergo “Tommy John” surgery to replace the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. The typical recovery time for a starting pitcher who undergoes the operation is roughly 12-15 months. 
The club had expected that Wainwright would need the surgery after the pitcher consulted with Dr. George Paletta, the team’s head physician, on Wednesday. A second opinion from Dr. Lewis Yocum confirmed Paletta’s findings. Yocum notified Mozeliak of his opinion on Wednesday evening.
“It’s not a real surprise to us this morning,” Mozeliak said, “but certainly a disappointment and a finality to this process.”
A date for the surgery has not been determined, but Paletta will perform the operation.

Punto out 8-12 weeks

Cardinals infielder Nick Punto will be out for approximately 8-12 weeks after being diagnosed with athletic pubalgia, commonly referred to as a sports hernia.
Punto traveled to St. Louis following the club’s workout on Monday and visited a specialist. According to general manager John Mozeliak, Punto will require surgery to repair the condition and will miss the bulk of the first month of the regular season, if not more.
He had been dealing with discomfort in the area of his groin, but remained able to work out. The condition lingered, though, so Punto traveled to see a specialist.
-M.

Drew Baur passes away

Andrew N. “Drew” Baur, one of the Cardinals owners and the team’s treasurer, has passed away. He was 66.

Baur was a native St. Louisan and one of the club’s directors since 1996. In addition to his work with the Cardinals, he was also a former chairman of Southwest Bank.
Baur had three children, Andrew, Todd and McKay, and six grandchildren.
A statement from the club is forthcoming.

Friday camp photo gallery

I finally got to get out and watch a little practice today, and I took the camera. So here are a few photos from today’s action. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to shoot the big boys throwing their bullpens, because we were having a long chat with TLR while that was going on. But there’s plenty of time left in camp.

As always, click on the thumbnail in order to see the full photo. And, as always, the disclaimer: I’m neither a photographer nor a web designer, so I apologize that this isn’t fancier. But it’s what I saw, and I figure you folks might like to see it too.
110218-stretch.jpg 110218-holliday-BP2.jpg 110218-holliday-BP3.jpg 110218-craig-BP.jpg 
110218-freese-BP1.jpg 110218-freese-BP2.jpg 110218-bullpens.jpg 110218-walters-bullpen.jpg
First row: pre-practice stretch on field one, two shots of Matt Holliday taking BP and one of Allen Craig taking BP.
Second row: two shots of David Freese taking BP, one of P.J. Walters, Adam Ottavino and Fernando Salas throwing on the bullpen mounds, and one of just Walters.
-M.

Friday camp tidbits: The circus has left town

It finally felt like Spring Training today.

As TLR walked up to the diminished group of reporters, he quipped, “I’m sorry I’m late. I thought it was all over.”
And then he went into a 40-minute chat with the scribes, covering all sorts of ground. Heck, I even saw some batting practice and bullpen sessions today! So let’s talk baseball, rather than contracts.
* The Cardinals will be announcing some news with Jim Edmonds later today. FOX Sports Midwest is reporting that the news will be that Edmonds is giving up his comeback attempt, though it was unclear whether that meant he’s actually retiring or merely pushing things back for a while. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, meanwhile, just reported that Edmonds is in fact retiring.
Either way, TLR said we won’t be seeing Edmonds here tomorrow at the least.
* La Russa flew up to Atlanta last night for a function with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, an event also attended by Gen. Hal Moore. 
* According to the manager, David Freese should expect to play two out of every three games for a good portion of the season. Asked if he’d be pleased with Freese getting 110 starts this year, La Russa said he’d be just fine with that.
* TLR spoke yesterday with Tyler Greene about playing center field. He’s excited about the possibility of seeing Greene in the outfield.
* As we were standing around talking, several home run balls from a batting practice session peppered the media session and the bullpen mounds. Upon realizing that it was Ryan Theriot launching the blasts, La Russa joked, “That’s either a good sign or a bad sign.”
Today’s playlist:
Keith Richards, “Wicked As It Seems”
The Clash, “Clampdown”
Sugar, “If I Can’t Change Your Mind”
Screaming Trees, “Nearly Lost You”
Nirvana, “Serve the Servants”
-M.

Lucky Seven rides again

OK, you guys know the drill. Answer as many as you like, or as few as you want. But if you don’t know or don’t care or whatever, just ignore it. No reason to take shots.

And I do believe this Lucky Seven will be a Pujols-free zone.
1. How many regular-season games will Jim Edmonds play in for the Cardinals in 2011?
2. Where in the batting order (not where on the field — what place in the batting order, 1-9) will Lance Berkman get the most plate appearances this year? Where SHOULD he get the most plate appearances?
3. Who will get the most plate appearances as the Cardinals leadoff man this year? Who should?
4. If you were the manager, who would be the Opening Day starting pitcher?
5. Which team is the best in the National League Central?
6. Who’s going to win the Daytona 500?
7. What’s your favorite awards show? Why?
-M.

Pujols talks over

Albert Pujols will not sign a new contract with the Cardinals this spring. Negotiations came to an end on Wednesday morning, more than an hour prior to the slugger’s self-imposed 11 a.m. CT Wednesday deadline. Thus, he will break off all contract talks until after the season ends. 
A Major League source told MLB.com on condition of anonymity that negotiations had ceased. The club has not formally confirmed the news.
Pujols had reportedly sought a 10-year deal, with some outlets reporting that he wanted $300 million over that span. SI.com reported on Tuesday night that the Cardinals had offered an eight-year contract worth under $30 million per year but likely more than $25 million per year, while the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the club was “weighing” a guaranteed eighth year as of Wednesday morning.
Pujols was expected to be in the Jupiter area on Wednesday, but according to a club official, he does not intend to report to camp until Thursday. The formal report day for Cardinals infielders and outfielders isn’t until Friday, with full-squad workouts beginning Saturday.
St. Louis general manager John Mozeliak and the team’s principal owner, Bill DeWitt Jr., plan to address reporters on Wednesday afternoon. It’s unclear when, or even whether, Pujols or his agent, Dan Lozano, intends to speak about the matter. An enormous media throng has descended upon the Cardinals complex to cover the developments.
Though no deal was reached, at least two more stages of this process remain. Even if Pujols refuses to entertain any discussion until the Cardinals’ season is over, the Cardinals would still have one more exclusive opening. Clubs maintain exclusive negotiating rights with their own free agents until five days after the World Series ends. 
After that, Pujols would go to free agency if he were still unsigned, at which time the club could still find itself the highest bidder. That was the situation last winter, when Matt Holliday re-upped after hitting the open market.
Pujols will receive $16 million in 2011, the final season of a deal that will end up paying him $111 million over eight years.
-M.

Opening Day roster projection, first guess

I’m getting an early start on this feature this year. This is an informed guess, and I’ll update it as the spring goes along.

Starting pitchers (5)
Adam Wainwright
Chris Carpenter
Jake Westbrook
Jaime Garcia
Kyle Lohse
Relief pitchers (7)
Ryan Franklin
Kyle McClellan
Jason Motte
Mitchell Boggs
Miguel Batista
Trever Miller
Brian Tallet
Catchers (2)
Yadier Molina
Gerald Laird
Infielders (6)
Albert Pujols
Skip Schumaker
Ryan Theriot
David Freese
Nick Punto
Tyler Greene
Outfielders (5)
Matt Holliday
Colby Rasmus
Lance Berkman
Allen Craig
Jon Jay
Not a lot of controversy there. And obviously subject to change.
-M.
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