July 2011

Sunday lineups

Cardinals
1. Schumaker 2B
2. Jay CF
3. Pujols 1B
4. Holliday LF
5. Berkman RF
6. Freese 3B
7. Molina C
8. Descalso SS
9. Westbrook P

Cubs
1. Johnson RF
2. Castro SS
3. Ramirez 3B
4. Pena 1B
5. Byrd CF
6. Soriano LF
7. Barney 2B
8. Hill C
9. Dempster P

Tyler Greene has been optioned to make space on the 25-man roster for Furcal, who is listed as an available substitute.

-M.

Saturday non-Furcal tidbits

I and my teammate Ken Gurnick are actively chasing this Rafael Furcal story, but this particular round of tidbits is a Furcal-free zone. Updates from this afternoon in the clubhouse…

 

* Lance Berkman sits once again, but TLR sounded a lot like he expects Berkman to start tomorrow night. Not a guarantee, but he definitely sounded more confident about that than he has in a while.

* The absence of Berkman added up, today, to Skip Schumaker in right field and Ryan Theriot taking his place at second base. Theriot mentioned last night that he has a bit of shoulder soreness, and that’s part of why he’s playing second. But, as I hinted last night on Twitter, it’s hard to see it as total coincidence that Theriot’s first appearance at 2B came just as a potential Furcal deal appeared to be picking up some steam.

* The situation with the backup catchers hasn’t really changed. Tony Cruz is improved and is close to fully available. Gerald Laird is also improving but still basically emergency-only.

* Mitchell Boggs is dealing with another recurrence of the back soreness that has bothered him off and on this year. He’s likely out a couple of days.

* TLR said that although the team is somewhat short on relievers today, he’d still prefer not to use Lance Lynn as a long man.

“But,” he said,” we want to win the game today, and if we need two innings from him, you worry about tomorrow tomorrow.”

* Allen Craig is still not especially close, but TLR said he could conceivably join the club by the end of the upcoming road trip.

And, finally, the playlist, which is another iPhone shuffle special:

Duran Duran, “Hold Back the Rain”
The Killers, “Mr. Brightside”
Joe Jackson, “Breaking Us In Two”
Cold War Kids , “Cold Toes On The Cold Floor”
Violent Femmes, “Confessions”

-M.

 

Friday tidbits: another bunch of ‘em

* As you no doubt know already, Nick Punto has been placed on the DL and Tyler Greene has been recalled to take his place. TLR sounded hopeful but not overly confident that Punto would miss the minimum. Oblique injuries, as any Cardinals fan knows by know, can be very tricky.

* Lance Berkman is not in the lineup but could well be available to pinch-hit. As I wrote here yesterday, this is not a big surprise. They’re going to give him one day too many, rather than one day too few. I expect he’ll play before the weekend is out.

* Tony Cruz is more available than Gerald Laird, though Laird could play in an emergency.

* I asked TLR about the decision to use Marc Rzepczynski for two full innings last night, and he said it resulted from a couple of factors. One element, though, was that they wanted to get a good look at what they have.

“We needed three innings. So one guy had to get two and the other guy get one. And if he had a quick first, let him have the second one. we weren’t going to play him forever. But it was a good chance for us to see him, and we didn’t really have another guy we wanted to pitch that day.”

* Rzepczynski could, conceivably, be available to face one batter tonight, but it’s unlikely.

* Corey Patterson is, in fact leading off. Asked about that too, and TLR pointed to his 6-for-10 mark against Matt Garza.

* TLR on the Astros’ aggressiveness on the basepaths last night, especially when Laird was in the game:

“They weren’t running on [Laird]. they were running on Jaime. They’ll run on Jaime sometimes when Yadi’s catching, if they get a jump.”

And, finally, the playlist, which is an actual five-song sequence from putting my iPhone on shuffle:

Public Enemy, “Louder Than A Bomb”
Chemical Brothers, “The Private Psychedelic Reel”
The White Stripes, “Rag & Bone”
Jimi Hendrix, “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)”
Everything But The Girl, “Missing” (the original acoustic one)

-M.

Friday lineups; no Berkman

Lance Berkman is not in the lineup today, but that’s not an enormous surprise. We’ll know more when the clubhouse opens. However, as I posted in yesterday’s tidbits, TLR had already made it clear that they would err on the side of caution rather than rushing Berkman back.

 

Cardinals
1. Patterson RF
2. Jay CF
3. Pujols 1B
4. Holliday LF
5. Freese 3B
6. Schumaker 2B
7. Molina C
8. Descalso SS
9. Jackson P

Cubs
1. Castro SS
2. Barney 2B
3. Ramirez 3B
4. Pena 1B
5. Byrd CF
6. Soto C
7. Soriano LF
8. Colvin RF
9. Garza P

-M.

Punto, Laird lifted due to injury

A Cardinals team already playing a bit short lost two players due to injury in the first four innings of its game against the Astros on Thursday night.

Infielder Nick Punto was lifted at the start of the fourth inning due to a strained left oblique muscle, continuing a frustrating year for the utilityman. Punto has already been on the disabled list twice, due to a sports hernia and a right forearm injury.

Two innings earlier, catcher Gerald Laird was due to what the club is calling a mild sprain of his left ring finger. Both players’ statuses were announced as day-to-day.

Laird started in place of Yadier Molina, who received a routine night off. He had a bit of a rough first inning, as Houston stole two bases and Laird was charged with a passed ball. But in the bottom of the second, he singled and scored.

After that, though, Laird did not come out for the third inning. Rookie Tony Cruz took his place behind the plate and in the No. 6 spot in the St. Louis batting order.

The Cardinals began the night short-handed because outfielder Lance Berkman is recovering from discomfort in his right shoulder. He received a cortisone injection on Wednesday and could be out until the weekend.

-M.

A very large number of Thursday tidbits

97 degrees at 6:45 p.m. Glad I’m up here and not down on the field tonight. Those of you in the stands, be safe please.

* Raul Valdes was optioned to make roster room today, since the Cardinals added 4 players in yesterday’s trade but traded away only three from the active roster. TLR said they never really considered going to 13 pitchers even for a little while, and that they just didn’t see any way that Valdes should have stayed around instead of any of the RH relievers they have. So they’ll go with one lefty for at least a while.

* As a result of the trade and sending out Valdes, there’s really no long reliever right now. Lance Lynn is probably the closest fit, and they’d hesitate to use him. If there’s a need for a lot of innings, it will be several guys getting an inning or two rather than one person soaking a bunch of them up.

TLR quote: “If we run into a game where we’re behind or ahead by a lot, we really don’t have the guy out there that you say, ‘OK, let’s use him and if he’s not available the next few days, no big deal.’ The reality is we’ll use them all. Try to keep them fresh.”

* The manager said that he won’t be afraid to use Octavio Dotel against a left-handed hitter, despite some ugly splits for the veteran righty.

“I think when he’s close, he’s close against everybody,” the skipper said.

Over the past three seasons, left-handers have a 277/413/584 line against Dotel with 11 homers in 202 at-bats. He has 49 strikeouts against 45 walks vs LHH in that time.

* Meanwhile, new lefty Marc Rzepczynski does not profile as a specialist. “Scrabble” looks more like a one-inning lefty, in the vein of someone like Scott Downs, rather than a LOOGY.

* Yadier Molina gets a night off tonight, but it’s just a night off after three straight games in some serious heat. TLR was asked about maybe playing Molina tonight and Gerald Laird tomorrow, to catch Edwin Jackson, but said he actually wanted to get Molina catching Jackson as soon as possible.

* Lance Berkman is not available tonight, except possibly in a real emergency. Though Berkman said yesterday that he hoped to play Friday, TLR sounded less confident about that. They will err on the side of giving Berkman too much time away, rather than bringing him back too soon.

* In his stead, Corey Patterson gets the start tonight. It’s really the only other option, since there are only 4 outfielders on the active roster right now. Skip Schumaker would be the alternative if they substituted, and of course we’ve already seen Tony Cruz in the outfield this year.

* Ryan Theriot makes a rare appearance outside the leadoff spot against a LHP, batting seventh. TLR on the switch: “His stroke is a work in progress right now. Right-handers don’t bother him. Just right now, his stroke is a work in progress. Could have done it sooner.”

* Nick Punto’s elbow is improving, and he has told the staff that he can play the left side of the infield. However, TLR would still have some hesitation to play Punto at shortstop. Third base is more in play than short, and ideally they prefer to keep Punto at second as much as possible for the time being. They would put Daniel Descalso at short and Punto at third, rather than the other way around, if those were the choices.

* The manager took issue with a couple of ways the Rasmus trade has been presented. I’ll let him speak for himself.

On whether the deal was “inevitable:”

“I totally disagree with that one. … It wasn’t inevitable. We have a chance to win now, and he was the one bullet. If we had different bullets, or they thought it was smart to reach into the system… No. We would have kept him. But that’s how we got the chance to improve. And in the end, the way we get judged is how many games we win. not the sense it makes, which is not really the test. And that’s the reality, so it’s fine.”

And on whether he and his staff push unusually hard for win-now trades and transactions:

“The thing is that supposedly I’m unusual because it’s win at all costs at the Major League level, at the exclusion of other considerations for an organization. Win now, win now. Well, first of all, that’s true of all managers. That’s what they pay you to do with whatever you’ve got. If you’re a .500 club, win half your games. Sometimes the organization decides they’re going to develop. You’ve lost the season and they’re going to develop. You go to develop, and you still try to win the games. So that’s not unusual. That’s what they pay you for, to get wins.

“But the other one that I think is a fair comment, if you ask… our staff and I take a lot of pride in taking the long view for the organization. I don’t think we have ever, ever recommended a move for now that we knew was a detriment to the organization beyond a couple years. … The classic explanation is you’re not going to be here in a couple years, so what do we care if you trade every young prospect? We’ve gotten a lot of points as a staff from Walt [Jocketty] and Mo… I read where Mo said it, that [people] don’t understand how much attention not just myself but our staff gives to what’s good for the organization now and down the road. For years, ‘You can’t trade that guy,’ we understand that. ‘You can’t bring that guy over here, he’s not worth the money.’ How many times have we had a pitcher or somebody establish value and you say, ‘See you later’ because he isn’t worth the money. Puts you in a hole. So that one I think is unfair based on the history of what our staff has done here over the years. I think we’re real conscious about the health of this organization beyond the year we’re playing.”

And, finally, the playlist:

R.E.M., “How The West Was Won And What It Got Us”
U2, “Mothers Of The Disappeared”
Depeche Mode, “Waiting For The Night”
Men At Work, “Down By The Sea”
Radiohead, “Exit Music (For A Film)”

-M.

Thursday lineups

Cardinals
1. Punto 2B
2. Jay CF
3. Pujols 1B
4. Holliday LF
5. Freese 3B
6. Laird C
7. Theriot SS
8. Patterson RF
9. Garcia P

Astros
1. Bourn CF
2. Altuve 2B
3. Bourgeois LF
4. Pence RF
5. Lee 1B
6. Johnson 3B
7. Barmes SS
8. Corporan C
9. Rodriguez P

-M.

Wednesday lineups

Cardinals

1. Descalso 3B
2. Theriot SS
3. Pujols 1B
4. Holliday LF
5. Jay CF
6. Molina C
7. Schumaker RF
8. Punto 2B
9. Carpenter P

Astros
1. Bourn CF
2. Altuve 2B
3. Bourgeois RF
4. Lee LF
5. Johnson 3B
6. Wallace 1B
7. Barmes SS
8. Corporan C
9. Norris P

Nuggets from Wednesday’s news conference

LOTS to come on the site as this day progresses. But in the interim, before the clubhouse opens in a couple of minutes, some tidbits from the news conference that just ended…

* Edwin Jackson will start Friday, with Kyle Lohse going back to Saturday

* Kyle McClellan is bullpen-bound and has been notified of that. TLR didn’t divulge exactly how he’ll use the back of his bullpen, but said that McClellan will have a major role. Safe to figure that McClellan will at least be an option to close some of the time.

* Corey Patterson is likely the only one of the players the Cardinals acquired who will be available tonight. They’re definitely playing short.

* Matt Holliday is expected to be in the lineup, but that’s still somewhat tentative. No word on Berkman’s exact condition but we should know more soon.

-M.

Berkman aggravates shoulder

Lance Berkman was removed from Tuesday night’s game against the Astros when his sore right shoulder acted up again. The Cardinals outfielder will visit with a doctor on Wednesday to have the joint examined, and could receive a shot of anti-inflammatory medicine at that time.

Berkman first felt something amiss during Sunday’s loss to the Pirates, and he sat out Monday’s home game. He returned to the lineup on Tuesday but took only two at-bats before feeling a recurrence of the discomfort when he grounded out in the fourth inning. The issue is in the area of the rotator cuff of his non-throwing shoulder.

“Honestly I thought I was going to be fine today,” Berkman said. “When I got out there in the game, I took that swing. it’s concerning to me, just because I don’t want to do something and really hurt myself. It’s like a pinch. When you go to accelerate, it’s just there. it’s like any kind of a strain. It doesn’t feel good.”

Skip Schumaker moved from second base to the outfield to take Berkman’s place, with Nick Punto coming in to play second base.

“He felt like he couldn’t take a real good swing after that second at-bat,” manager Tony La Russa said. “He said he’d hang around, and I said ‘Why? If you’re not going to swing, we may as well put the defense in right now.'”

If Berkman receives a shot on Wednesday, he would likely be out for two or three games. The Cardinals are also currently doing without Matt Holliday, who has an illness that kept him out of Tuesday’s game.

-M.

 

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