July 2011

Tuesday tidbits: Holliday, Berkman and much more

* Matt Holliday is out of the lineup today due to an illness. What EXACTLY he’s dealing with is not clear, but it’s something in a stomach bug-flu kind of realm.

* That’s PART of why Lance Berkman is back in the lineup, one day after sitting out with discomfort in his right rotator cuff. Ideally they might have given Berkman an extra precautionary day, but with no Holliday, that equation changed somewhat.

* TLR declined to describe the shortstop situation right now as a true platoon, noting that Ryan Theriot started against a RHP in Pittsburgh. Still, he acknowledged that Theriot is fighting it against right-handers right now, and that means more time for Daniel Descalso. The manager also said he’s been impressed by what he’s seen defensively from Descalso at SS.

“Like happens to virtually everybody, his stroke is not quite there,” TLR said. “So while he works to get it right, you give somebody else a chance to get some at-bats.”

* Kyle Lohse threw a bullpen session today and said he’s feeling better than he did at this time on his last turn through the rotation. He didn’t put a great deal of strain on his sore finger, however.

* TLR didn’t put much stock in the contention that the field played a big part in last night’s result. It was, of course, the first game played at Busch Stadium since the ballpark was re-sodded following the July 17 U2 concert.

His quote: “Colby didn’t fall. He made a diving play. I saw the guy [Hunter Pence] probably lost it in the lights, break in, misjudge it, we’ve seen that happen on fields that I don’t know if it’s slippery or not. I didn’t see anybody else slip out there. I’m not saying he didn’t. I think that the field is not 100 percent what it’s going to be, or maybe it is, if it stays hot like this. But there weren’t guys slipping all over the place yesterday. I wouldn’t make that conclusion it’s a slippery field because guys were not slipping. That was an awkward play.”

* John Mozeliak on trade possibilities (more to come on this topic on the MLB.com trade deadline blog):

“I think we’re like many clubs. We’re exploring a lot of different things right now. As far as we approach Sunday, we’re going to continue to work and look at ways we can find to improve this team.”

* Mozeliak also said he believes there’s a good chance that Eduardo Sanchez will in fact pitch before the season is out.

And, finally, the playlist:

Pearl Jam, “Ghost”
The Hold Steady, “Joke About Jamaica”
Tanya Donelly, “New England”
The Replacements, “Valentine”
R.E.M., “You’re In The Air”

-M.

Tuesday lineups

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

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

Tuesday lineup not yet set

Lance Berkman will be in, contrary to earlier information.

Matt Holliday may or may not be. He’s feeling ill.

Full lineup to come once they have resolved Holliday’s status.

TLR declines to divulge who will play CF if in fact Holliday is in.

-M.

Wednesday lineups from Queens

Cardinals

1. Schumaker 2B
2. Jay RF
3. Holliday LF
4. Berkman 1B
5. Freese 3B
6. Rasmus CF
7. Laird C
8. Descalso SS
9. McClellan P

 

Mets

1. Reyes SS
2. Turner 2B
3. Beltran RF
4. Murphy 3B
5. Pagan CF
6. Bay LF
7. Duda 1B
8. Thole C
9. Dickey P

-M.

Call for submissions

I’m writing an Inbox tomorrow, and I need some questions. Because it’s been a while, many of the ones that I still have saved in email have gotten stale.

If you’d like to send in a question, please use the link below to submit it — and please be sure to include your first name, last initial and hometown. If you send a regular email, rather than clicking the link, be certain to use the word “mailbag” in the subject header — otherwise your mail may be directed to the spam folder or possibly be ignored in an unbecoming manner. Also, please understand that literally hundreds of emails arrive every week, so they can’t all be used in the mailbag or receive personal responses.
Please DON’T submit inbox questions via twitter, or leave them in the comments.
-M.

A surprise for Holliday

At this morning’s All-Star managers’ news conference, NL manager Bruce Bochy announced his lineup — which included Matt Holliday batting seventh and playing left field. Holliday steps in for Ryan Braun, who is unavailable due to injury.

 

So, during Holliday’s media availability session this morning, I asked him when he had found out that he would be in the lineup. And, well…

 

“I didn’t, actually,” he said. “Am I? Oh, cool. Perfect.”

 

I was inclined to believe him, but Holliday has been known to deadpan a joke or two. A couple more questions were asked, and I followed up. You really didn’t know?

 

“I honestly didn’t. Freese texted me earlier and said something about starting and I didn’t know what he was talking about.”

 

More to come on all of the Cardinals’ All-Stars both here and at the site later today.

-M.

Holliday named to starting lineup

The Cardinals will have two starters in Tuesday night’s All-Star Game after all. Matt Holliday will start in left field for the National League, joining Lance Berkman, who will play right field. Berkman will bat sixth, with Holliday seventh.

Berkman of course was voted in by fans as one of the three outfield starters. However, in the final couple of weeks of balloting, Matt Kemp moved past Holliday for the third elected starting spot. But when Ryan Braun decided to skip the game because of a left calf strain, a spot came open in the NL outfield.

That opened the door for Holliday, who finished fourth in fan balloting and is having one of the best seasons of any National League outfielder. It will be the second time in an All-Star starting lineup for Holliday, who batted sixth as the right fielder for the NL in 2008. Coincidentally, that was also Berkman’s last start — he was the National League’s first baseman at Yankee Stadium.

Yadier Molina will come off the bench for the National League, which has Brian McCann as its starting catcher.

-M.

Part of a conversation with Shelby Miller

I also had the chance to chat with Shelby Miller for a while before the game today. A couple of other scribes were present at different times, and out of fairness, I didn’t include their questions in here. And some of what Miller talked about is in the story going up on Cardinals.com today.

However, there was still a good bit that I talked to Miller about that didn’t make it into the story. So, here it is…

 

MLB.com: Are you finding that you need to use the offpseed stuff any more at this level than you did before?

Miller: You do in situations, for sure. I can’t say that I throw more offspeed than I have before, because I don’t feel like I have. I feel like I’m still going after guys with my fastball, throwing it 70, 80 percent of the time. But you do have to throw your offspeed. You have to mix it up for sure. That’s definitely something you’ve got to do. At Palm Beach, you don’t have to really. You throw fastballs, they hit it in the air, and the ball doesn’t go anywhere. But I Double-A, it’s a great level to pitch at.

 

MLB.com: Has anybody tried to make the point to you that at some point before you get to St. Louis, that ratio may need to change?

Miller: What’s tough about it is, they can tell you that it has to change, but I’m not going to know until I get up there. I’ve got to know how to go after hitters. If I have Yadier Molina catching me, and he calls a pitch, I’m not going to shake him. If he calls a curveball, I’m going to throw a curveball. If it’s a full count, if it’s 2-0, I’m going to throw what he calls. Obviously he knows the hitters more than I do. I’m sure my offspeed [will be important] when I get up there.

 

MLB.com: Is that the main thing that needs to get better before you get to the Majors?

Miller: Yeah. For sure. I feel like my fastball is where it needs to be. It’s always been my best pitch. But throwing sinkers, throwing changeups and throwing my curveball is what I have to have refined when I get to the big leagues or else you’re going to give up runs and you’re going to get hit. That’s what I work on every day in Double-A, with my pitching coach every day, Bryan Eversgerd. And with Martinez in High A. I worked on my curveball, worked on my changeup, worked on where I wanted it to be. So far, it’s been coming around pretty good.

 

MLB.com: Do you follow Carlos Martinez at all? There’s a lot of talk about the two of you coming up through the system.

Miller: He’s a young kid. He’s somebody that obviously has a lot of talent, somebody who throws real hard. I know he has a good curveball. I haven’t seen his changeup that much. But he’s going to be there someday. He’s got the ability. He’s just got to do the right things. He’s got to listen to what everybody has to tell him. He’s young. He’s going through the system real fast, and I’m wishing him just as much luck to get there as fast as anybody else. I think he has the ability to pitch in the big leagues.

 

MLB.com: When you were drafted, you were pretty confident about a brief timetable, and it’s more or less happened that way. Is that any more realistic at this point? Do you have the Majors in sight?

Miller: I feel like I’m getting really, really close. If I keep performing and I keep doing what I’m doing right now, and I go out there and continue to have success, you never know what’s going to happen. You never know if you could get called up tomorrow and told you need to go throw some innings in the big leagues. Or it could be next year or the year after that. Whenever it is, I’ll try my hardest. When the Cardinals think I’m ready and when I know I’m ready, I think I’m going to be there.

-M.

A brief conversation with Carlos Martinez

A little bit of this made it into my story on the Futures Game that will go up on Cardinals.com later today. But in addition, here’s a writeup of my brief chat with Carlos Martinez on the field this morning.

 

The excellent Jesse Sanchez served as interpreter.

 

MLB.com: How has your first year in the U.S. gone so far?

Martinez: It’s been my goal to make it to the United States and pitch here, and I’m very grateful the Cardinals gave me that opportunity to do that. So I’m just here working as hard as I can, doing my work, proving to them that I’m worth it.

 

MLB.com: Whether in baseball or off the field, what’s been the hardest adjustment for you so far?

Martinez: The biggest thing for me was the language. You come here and you don’t know what’s going on, what all the people are saying. I’ve just been able to concentrate on baseball, concentrate on doing my job and really focus on the game.

 

MLB.com: Many Cardinals fans are already looking forward to seeing you and Shelby Miller pitching together. Have you given than any thought at all?

Martinez: It would be an honor to pitch in a rotation with a guy like Shelby Miller. But right now, I’m really just focusing on doing the work, and maybe that will come in the future. We really need to concentrate on what we’re doing now.

 

MLB.com: What’s the biggest thing you’re working on as far as your pitching right now?

Martinez: Right now I’ve really been working on my changeup. It’s a pitch that’s really helped me in Davenport. It’s helping me now. And it’s something I’m really focusing on. I know it’s going to help me in the future.

-M.

Wednesday tidbits: Plenty of Pujols, plenty more

Some of this will be covered in more depth in Austin Laymance’s notebook, which will go on the site a bit later this evening. But in the meantime, a look at some of the various topics going on pregame today.

* Albert Pujols is, of course, in the lineup. TLR said he has no specific plan to get Pujols a rest day here or there, or to play him two and sit him one, or anything like that.

“Just talk to him,” the manager said. “Check him out all the time. During the game, after the game, next day.”

TLR also said that if Pujols is asked to go to the All-Star Game as an injury replacement for someone, he hopes Pujols accepts.

* Gerald Laird is scheduled to be back in StL tomorrow, but it’s still not a certainty. TLR sounded a bit hesitant to call up Laird after only two games worth of rehab. Still, it sounds like the most likely thing is that we’ll see Laird tomorrow.

* David Freese is just getting a scheduled rest day. He’s played every game since being activated from the DL, and they just felt it was time to get him a breather.

* Eduardo Sanchez is in fact expected back for the first game after the break.

* Allen Craig is a little further behind. Per young Laymance, Craig is still a few days away from swinging a bat, which means that he’s likely at least a week away from going out on a rehab assignment. And it’s pretty safe to guess that Craig won’t have a 2- or 3-day rehab. They’ll probably want to make sure he gets some at-bats.

* They’re still in discussions as to what exactly the rotation will look like coming out of the All-Star break. However, with the extra off day on Thursday, TLR and Dave Duncan can deploy the starters in any order they wish for those games.

And, finally, the playlist…

Weezer, “Falling For You”
Pixies, “I Bleed”
The White Stripes, “Girl You Have No Faith In Medicine”
Violent Femmes, “Add It Up”
Cake, “Short Skirt/Long Jacket”

-M.

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