Greetings from ’50s night at Tropicana Field. I have to admit it’s a little bit funny to have a 1950s themed game played at night, in a dome, but that’s just me. I am enjoying the 1950s music.
* The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported today that Albert Pujols will “likely” return to the Cardinals’ active roster immediately after the All-Star break. From conversations I had with various people, it seems that that certainly COULD be the case, but the club is not quite committing to such a rapid return for Pujols just yet.
Pujols was re-evaluated yesterday and the club was encouraged by the initial findings. However, Dr. George Paletta, the team’s head physician, hasn’t had a chance to go over the findings with the front office. That will happen Monday or Tuesday, at which time a better read will be available.
One thing we do know as of today: TLR does not expect Pujols to go on a Minor League rehab assignment, no matter how long he’s out. The manager told us that today.
If Pujols played on July 15, the first day after the break, it would mean he missed fewer than four weeks. That would be a dramatic improvement from initial estimates, which had him in a soft cast for at least four weeks and out of action for six.
* Matt Holliday is a little bit improved, according to TLR, but is DH’ing once again today. They’re hoping he’s back in the outfield tomorrow, which would open up the DH spot for Lance Berkman to get a half-rest day.
* Speaking of those “half days off” that TLR likes, he’s trying to give David Freese one today. Freese is playing 1B in hopes that it will be a little easier on him. The plan is for Freese to play yet again tomorrow, back at 3B, which would be 6 games in 6 days since coming off the DL.
* The Cardinals are short on right-handed relievers today. Jason Motte and Brandon Dickson are fully available, but everybody else has a handle-with-care designation (or, in Lance Lynn’s case, more likely hands-off).
* The Cards announced the signings of five free agents from Latin America today: LHP Dewin Perez, SS Eliezer Alvarez, C Jose Godoy, LHP Alirio Negrette and RHP Luis Arias.
And, finally, the playlist:
Pixies, “Here Comes Your Man”
Weezer, “El Scorcho”
The White Stripes, “Black Math”
The Libertines, “Can’t Stand Me Now’
Talking Heads, “Life During Wartime”
Greetings from St. Petersburg, which is the closest that the Major Leagues get to my hometown. I’m likely to be in good spirits all weekend. It’s good to be in Florida.
* Matt Holliday has some sort of illness that has left him achy and short of energy. He’s serving as the designated hitter instead of playing the outfield tonight. He and TLR both played it down, and Holliday said that if the DH weren’t an option, he’d probably be in the lineup.
* David Freese is playing for a fourth straight day. TLR acknowledged the fairly obvious, which is that Freese’s ankles are in excellent shape. There was definitely a silver lining to Freese’s wrist injury, which was that it allowed him to really rest up his ankles. He’ll be playing more often than he did earlier in the year.
* A few minutes ago, a little less than an hour before first pitch, the Cardinals announced a slight lineup change. Jon Jay and Lance Berkman switched between left and right field.
* The Cardinals will wear 1953 throwback uniforms tomorrow. If you want to see how the jerseys will look, follow this link.
And, finally, the playlist, which is also a throwback. Feeling a little nostalgic back in the home state, so here are some favorites from when I was in high school in Tallahassee:
Living Colour, “Elvis Is Dead”
Red Hot Chili Peppers, “Give It Away”
Beastie Boys, “Pass the Mic”
Pearl Jam, “Even Flow”
Nine Inch Nails, “Sin”
First, permit me a personal note: Happiest of birthdays to my dad, who turns 70 today. He’s the biggest reason I am a baseball fan, and therefore one of the biggest reasons I have this amazing job. Thanks and happy happy.
Now to the baseball. It’s a steamy hot day at Busch Stadium, with first-pitch temp listed at 95 degrees. Here are some tidbits that didn’t make it into today’s notebook at Cardinals.com…
* Allen Craig will start tomorrow in place of Berkman. I asked TLR about Craig being out of the lineup for two straight days, and he noted that he wanted Jay/Rasmus/Berkman all in the outfield against Wells, and that the heavily left-handed Cubs lineup made it a less-than-great idea to play Craig at 2B.
He also said that Craig’s “leg is barking,” but downplayed it and said, again, that Craig will be in the lineup tomorrow against Zambrano.
* Albert Pujols downplayed his 100th home run at Busch Stadium when he was asked about it this morning. Pujols is the only player with 100 homers at the new park, of course.
“We got the win, that’s the most important thing,” he said.
* I also brought up whether the skipper had seriously considered getting Yadier Molina a rest day over the weekend, and TLR noted the upcoming off day Monday. and that until this weekend the weather hadn’t been that bad. Tony Cruz will probably start Wednesday in Houston, when Lance Lynn is expected to pitch.
* Fernando Salas remains the man they’re going to funnel save chances to, at least for now.
TLR quote: “I think if everybody’s rested, I think he’s got more command of more pitches. But I feel good about Sanchez. If it were the right guys, I’d pitch Motte. Batista’s not afraid of anything.”
* The manager admitted that Skip Schumaker was rushed a bit coming back from the disabled list.
And, finally, a summer-y playlist:
The Cars, “Magic”
Neneh Cherry, “Buffalo Stance”
The Police, “Every Breath You Take”
Prince, “When Doves Cry”
It’s a little bit quieter around here today that it was yesterday afternoon, but we’ve still got plenty going on. The forecast appears to have been a bit inaccurate, since it’s overcast, but we still should be free of rain.
* Skip Schumaker is set to go out on a rehab assignment tomorrow. He’ll report to extended spring training and take several at-bats a day down there. He hopes to need only a few days in Florida before being added to the roster again. TLR sounded less sure of that, but either way Schumaker’s return is getting closer.
* Colby Rasmus is out again today, but for the most part the news on Rasmus is good. He said he’s dealing with a simple abdominal strain. That’s encouraging, because he underwent tests yesterday to rule out other possibilities. I’d guess that he returns tomorrow, but wouldn’t be shocked if it were another day or two.
* Brian Tallet is set to pitch tonight for Class A Quad Cities as he begins his rehab assignment.
* Allen Craig is at second base again, with the lefty pitching for the Cardinals. That’s because Nick Punto is dealing with some right elbow discomfort and is unavailable to start. TLR said that he won’t flip-flop Craig and Daniel Descalso in double-play situations, as Joe Pettini hinted was a possibility last week in Chicago.
* TLR didn’t have a lot to say about Marty Brennaman’s comments regarding the Cardinals. “I think the safest thing to say is he’s a Hall of Famer, and he should get the respect that inclusion in that place deserves,” he said. “And then he ought to earn it every day from his Hall of Fame induction forward. He ought to earn it and not abuse it.”
* Albert Pujols isn’t going to play 3B much at all, the manager said. It’s an option, but not one that will be very common.
And, finally, the playlist, which is a remnant from Sunday night. I drove back from CIN, of course, and spent the last three hours listening to the great “Darkwave” program on Sirius/XM First Wave. So, five favorites from the show.
New Order, “Sub-Culture”
Sisters of Mercy, “Ribbons”
Front 242, “Headhunter”
Jesus and Mary Chain, “Just Like Honey”
Joy Division, “Atmosphere”
The tarp is out right now at GABP, but from people I’ve talked to, it sounds like we should be OK for the game.
* We had a long chat with Dave Duncan today, about a lot of different aspects of the bullpen. I’ll be writing on it at some length later this afternoon, but a couple of main things came out of it. One, for now, it appears that Eduardo Sanchez’s role is going to change for a while. They feel he’s pitched differently in the ninth than he did when he was pitching in other situations. So although he’s likely unavailable today, he probably wouldn’t be the guy to close a game even if he were fully fresh.
* Two, the two guys they WOULD aim toward, at least for now, are as mentioned a few days ago: Mitchell Boggs and Fernando Salas. Though Boggs’ profile has dropped quite a bit since that one rough game in Houston, Duncan maintains that he likes what he’s seeing from Boggs, and that there’s a good chance he would be the guy to close out today’s game. Duncan is also very pleased with the way Salas is throwing. The complication is that Salas threw two innings yesterday — however, he only threw 17 full-effort pitches (plus four on an intentional walk).
* Matt Holliday still has some soreness from hitting his left foot with a foul ball yesterday, but he’s OK to play and is in the lineup.
* Ryan Theriot, as noted in the lineup post, is back in there after missing some time with a sore right oblique. Nick Punto is out but will likely start at third base tomorrow. Lance Berkman will play tomorrow against lefty Travis Wood.
And, finally, the playlist:
Sleeper Agent, “Get It Daddy”
Tokyo Police Club, “Your English Is Good”
Beck, “Cellphone’s Dead”
Gang Gang Dance, “Mindkilla”
TV On The Radio, “Will Do”
(all stuff I heard on Sirius XMU and Alt Nation on the drive over here yesterday)
The Cardinals didn’t take batting practice on the field today, and TLR took a little down time after his radio show. He’s still dealing with the viral condition that has bothered him for a few weeks now.
* Ryan Theriot is back in the lineup after missing one game due to being hit on the shin by a pitch Friday.
* Allen Craig is feeling better as well, but not back in the lineup yet. Craig hit himself in the calf with a foul ball on Friday.
* Most Cardinals players are using pink bats, wrist bands and/or cleats today in honor of Mother’s Day and breast cancer awareness.
* Skip Schumaker took groundballs on the field today but is still only throwing underhand. He’s hoping to see Dr. Paletta sometime today, and the expectation is that at that time, he’ll be cleared to begin throwing a little bit as well as hitting off a tee.
And, finally, the playlist… Today’s playlist is in honor of my mom. A combination of favorites I remember her playing when I was very young, and favorites I foisted upon her when I was just a little bit older (you can probably guess which ones are which). Much love and many thanks to her. Folks, if you can, call your mom today, or better yet visit her. And then again soon after — not just today.
The Kingston Trio, “M.T.A.”
The Everly Brothers, “Wake Up Little Susie”
Phil Ochs, “Draft Dodger Rag”
Kenny Loggins, “Footloose”
Michael Jackson, “Billie Jean”
Happy Mother’s Day, y’all.
Greetings from what may be the most perfect night for ball that we have this year. The signs in the bullpens read 70 degrees and there’s scarcely a cloud in the sky. I’m back in the saddle after a few days off, and I’ll be on for quite a while now.
* Brian Tallet told us today that he’s still one week away from being permitted to catch a ball. Once that time comes, he’ll still likely have to go on a rehab assignment. So a reasonable guess is that he’s two weeks from returning to active duty.
* Lance Berkman got a night off tonight, with Allen Craig getting the start in right. Berkman is 3-for-27 against Randy Wolf.
* I asked TLR about his infield alignment, with Tyler Greene at second and Nick Punto at third, and he explained that one of the primary factors that went into that setup is the left-handed groundballer Jaime Garcia on the mound. He wanted to get the best possible defender at third behind Garcia, and that’s Punto.
* Colby Rasmus gets yet another start against a LHP. He’s actually the only lefty in the lineup, with Wolf mowing down left-handed hitters (SMALL SAMPLE SIZE ALERT) so far this year.
* In honor of Bellerive Country Club receiving the 2018 PGA Championship and the 2013 Senior PGA, the Cardinals held a brief pregame ceremony. The president of the PGA of America threw out the first pitch, and the Wanamaker Trophy (given to the PGA champion each year) was displayed on the field.
And, finally, the playlist:
Pearl Jam, “Love Boat Captain”
Living Colour, “Behind the Sun”
Cracker, “Get Off This”
Everclear, “I Will Buy You a New Life”
The Cure, “10:15 Saturday Night”
Yeah, I dunno. Works for me.
* Ryan Theriot is back in the lineup, but batting seventh. TLR said he wanted to ease Theriot back a little bit, in case his timing is off after missing three games. TLR did not say, but I noted, that Theriot is 0-for-9 against Tim Hudson.
* David Freese is out of the lineup tonight but expected to be back in tomorrow. Yadier Molina is in tonight but expected to be out tomorrow. Tomorrow is a 1 p.m. ET start following a 7:30 night game.
* Despite his recent DUI arrest, Derek Lowe is still slated to start for the Braves in Sunday afternoon’s series finale.
* The Braves called up former Cardinal Joe Mather on Friday.
* Fernando Salas and Trever Miller are likely unavailable tonight, while Jason Motte and Miguel Batista both rate as “maybes.”
* Ryan Franklin may be the best fit for the Cards’ long-relief job for the time being, TLR said Friday.
* Allen Craig is set to begin a rehab assignment at Springfield tonight.
* I asked TLR about batting Freese second in Houston, and he said it was at least in part because the Astros have pitched Rasmus well. He said that even if Freese had been in the lineup tonight, Rasmus would still be back in the 2 spot.
And, finally, the playlist:
Buffalo Tom, “Don’t Forget Me”
TV On The Radio, “Killer Crane”
Jason Isbell, “Alabama Pines”
Drive-By Truckers, “Mercy Buckets”
R.E.M., “Oh My Heart”
It’s starting to cloud up at Busch Stadium, and it sounds like we’re going to get some weather. The question is how severe, and for how long.
* Jake Westbrook will start Sunday’s game, assuming that it’s the third game of the weekend. That is, if either today’s or tomorrow’s game is rained out, they would adjust things, and Westbrook would not pitch Sunday. But if the games happen as scheduled, it’ll be Westbrook.
* Skip Schumaker took groundballs today for the first time since his injury, but he remains a good ways way from returning to the lineup. He said he’s hoping his total time away will end up being 3-4 weeks.
* Though TLR made some noises earlier in the week about possibly adding a lefty reliever for this series, the club decided it didn’t make sense. For one thing, they just didn’t really have any viable options.
* Daniel Descalso gets the start at second base today. It looks like that will be a mix-and-match position for the time being.
* TLR is getting better as he recovers from conjunctivitis, or pinkeye. He’s able to open his eye a little bit, which is progress.
* Fernando Salas is likely unavailable tonight. It’s only been two days since he pitched three innings.
And, finally, the Earth Day playlist:
R.E.M., “Fall On Me”
Joni Mitchell, “Big Yellow Taxi”
Marvin Gaye, “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)”
The Pretenders, “My City Was Gone”
Jack Johnson, “The Horizon Has Been Defeated”
Yet another beautiful day in San Francisco. If you’ve never been to this park, seriously, get here. For my money, best place for a game in the Major Leagues.
* Matt Holliday is in the lineup and playing with basically no restrictions. He expects to be pretty much an everyday guy from here on out.
* TLR said that Ryan Franklin is still the closer, though Franklin is not available today except in case of emergency. He actually did entertain questions about the topic today, and we had a pretty good chat with him about it. And in short, his answer is that he and the club do not believe that Mitchell Boggs, Jason Motte, Miguel Batista or anyone else is a better option right now. But he didn’t dismiss the topic out of hand.
* Lance Berkman sat out today despite good numbers against Barry Zito, in large part so he can play the next several games in a row. Just a preventative day.
* One topic that came up some last night on Twitter was a relatively quick hook on Jaime Garcia. I asked about it, and La Russa said it was not about getting a pinch-hitter in the game. Instead, he was simply convinced Garcia had had enough. Garcia had begun to look different to him in the 5th and 6th innings.
* Nick Punto continues to progress well, according to John Mozeliak. Punto is working out in extended spring training and is pain-free, the GM said, but he hasn’t yet been cleared to run at game speed. Punto will likely begin taking some at-bats in extended spring games before he’s cleared to play full games.
And, finally, one more Bay Area playlist, potpourri edition:
Counting Crows, “Angels of the Silences”
Primus, “Jerry Was A Race Car Driver”
Tony! Toni! Tone!, “If I Had No Loot”
Digital Underground, “The Humpty Dance”
Huey Lewis and the News, “Walkin’ On A Thin Line”