Results tagged ‘ Allen Craig ’

Wednesday camp tidbits: Craig and Miller get noticed

Another warm, sunny day in Jupiter today, though it sounds like rain is coming soon.

Lots and lots of news out of Cardinals camp today, and of course some of it is already on the site — most notably Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday being scratched. But as for what’s not on the site, here goes…
* Allen Craig doubled and homered in his first Grapefruit League game of the year, and he caught TLR’s attention. La Russa’s comments on Craig after the game were really striking, and definitely worth taking note of.
“It shows me that we better pay attention every time he hits,” La Russa said. “What did I say before the game? He’ll have to hit his way on the team, right? … A guy hangs a changeup 2-0 and he gets to it, that’s impressive.
“We didn’t have a lot of other guys center it against him. Mock, I like his arm. [Craig] will  be out there again tomorrow.”
Asked if Craig might be the kind of player who could help as a pinch-hitter, La Russa answered:
“I don’t want to assign any roles to him till he gets on the club. I just think, take a look at him. I know that they say that in the last couple of months, he was as good as any hitter there was in the PCL. He really got it going. And this is his first action since then, and he gets two hits. So, what did you see? He’s here. he came in to get a shot, and he’s overcome the [quadriceps injury] and he’s got a lot of the spring left.”
Craig himself, meanwhile, had a philosophical comment on his attempt to hit his way onto the team:
“That’s what I’m good at,” he said. “I’m good at hitting. So that’s what I’m going to have to do to make the team. I don’t think that’s really anything new.”
* Also catching the attention of the field staff was Shelby Miller, who pitched a scoreless seventh inning.
“I was really impressed,” La Russa said. “Dunc has been saying this young guy has really got a good idea already. The one [wild] pitch was a cross-up. I thought he had good stuff. his composure was outstanding.
“He had some of the best composure out there for any pitcher on either side today. That’s a good test. He’s out there for the first time. he could have been a lot shakier than that and we’d have said, ‘Hey, what’s the big deal, as long as you’ve got talent.’ But he’s really impressive.”
* Mitchell Boggs gave up a home run, but overall showed significant progress from his first outing. He struck out three, didn’t walk anyone and was better in his second inning than his first.
* No additional cuts are likely until the end of the weekend.
* I mentioned on Twitter today how impressed I was by what Chris Duncan had to say regarding his last couple of years and his parting of ways with the Cardinals. I only got a little bit of it in the story, so I wanted to include some more here. It really stood out to me how mature, self-aware and reasonable he was about the whole situation.
Asked about the day he was traded: “It was kind of weird. But obviously they were getting ready to get Holliday and somebody had to go. I wasn’t playing well. It was probably better for me to go somewhere else where I might have a better opportunity. We had so many good outfielders and we were trading for a great player.”
And this is the main stuff. Asked about whether he had any hard feelings, or anything like that:
“It was kind of tough at the end. I remember the last game I started at home, I was getting booed. And then they put Rick in and the whole crowd erupted. That’s not easy to take. You try to block it out and stay focused, but I definitely felt like it was not going good.
“The bottom line is I wasn’t playing well, and we were competing for a pennant. Every opportunity that I got that I didn’t play well was costing the team games. I think that was the toughest thing for me. Every time [La Russa] wrote me in the lineup, I just so badly wanted to contribute and do something to help the team win. I felt like I was able to do that at the beginning, but more and more, as the season went on, I wasn’t doing that. It was tough. I felt like I was letting the guys down more than anything.
“I think when I got traded we were only one game up. All those games, and every opportunity I had to play was a chance to do something to help the team win. and when I didn’t, it was tough on me. 
“I know what it means to get written into a Major League lineup for a winning team. I just kept trying to tell myself that every time I’m in there, I had a chance to do something to help the team win. I just tried to stay focused. But I think I ended like 1-for-36 or something? I wasn’t helping the team. they had a chance to bring in a great outfielder that could take them the distance. So I understand.”
Some people are going to seize on the one short bit where he talks about being booed. But seriously. Read the whole thing. A lot of grace, a lot of class. To be admired, in my opinion.
No playlist, because this is already way too late.
-M.

Tuesday Spring Training lineup and tidbits

Hello from Hammond Stadium in beautiful Fort Myers. We got some rain this morning, but it’s gone now and apparently we’re in for another gorgeous Florida day.

March-9-Lee-County.jpg
Today’s Cardinals lineup vs. RHP Carl Pavano and the Twins:
1. Schumaker 2B
2. Lugo SS
3. Rasmus CF
4. Holliday LF
5. Ludwick RF
6. Freese 3B
7. Descalso DH
8. Mather 1B
9. LaRue C
Wainwright P
Pitchers also on the list: Boggs, S.Miller, Ottavino, Parise, Perez, Salas, Samuel, Zink, Lynn
And the tidbits…
* Allen Craig is expected to make his 2010 game debut tomorrow, likely at first base or DH. They’ll probably still hold him out of the outfield. Craig is recuperating from soreness in his left quadriceps.
* TLR said this morning that there likely won’t be any more cuts this week. He had initially indicated that there might be two rounds, one before the Fort Myers trip and one after. However, it seems that all the moves they were going to make, they went ahead and made on Sunday — since several of the players who were cut, are on the trip.
* Daniel Descalso is in the lineup today in part because his parents are in attendance. Descalso has also swung the bat well this spring, and he adds another lefty bat to the lineup.
* Hammond Stadium has a bit of a homecoming feel for La Russa. He’s good friends with ex-Twins manager Tom Kelly, and in fact broke off his session with us to go chat with Kelly. He also has a long history with Fort Myers groundskeeper George Toma, who is one of the very best in his field of endeavor. Toma, among other things, is in charge of field preparation for the Super Bowl.
Today’s playlist:
Depeche Mode, “A Pain That I’m Used To”
Sisters of Mercy, “Lucretia My Reflection”
Mission UK, “Wasteland”
Shriekback, “Nemesis”
Cure, “Primary”
(Listened to Darkwave on Sirius/XM First Wave on Sunday night… all still stuck in my head, great stuff)
-M.

Friday Spring Training tidbits: Ryan, Craig, Lopez, Boggs and more

It’s starting to warm up today, and the sky is as perfectly blue as can be here at Roger Dean Stadium. It’s time for the spring home opener. Here are the tidbits:

* Brendan Ryan keeps moving forward, and he’s planning to take soft toss on Monday. The hope would be that a week after that, he could take batting practice, which would mean game at-bats no sooner than March 22. He’s still a ways off but moving forward.
Ryan and TLR were asked about the possibility of Ryan appearing as a defensive replacement or baserunner in a game sooner than that. Neither dismissed it out of hand, but it doesn’t seem very likely at this point.
* Allen Craig took live BP again today, and he seems very close to OK as he deals with a sore left quadriceps. But the team is going to be very cautious with him. It still sounds like he’ll sit out all weekend.
* Felipe Lopez, meanwhile, might make his debut on Sunday. The target had originally been Monday, but TLR sounded today like that could be bumped up a day.
* Mitchell Boggs makes his spring debut today, and the aim is for him to throw about 30 pitches. That’s a bit shorter than some of the starters have been throwing — some have already done 40 pitches in two simulated innings. 
Boggs is not going to be kept exclusively short this spring. He’ll be stretched out some. But it remains evident that the most likely destination for him is the bullpen. I don’t expect he’ll be stretched out in the same way as even someone like Blake Hawksworth.
“He needs to pitch,” La Russa said. “He needs to work on his pitches.”
That means he won’t be going one-inning-only early in camp. But I expect his path will diverge from those of the starters sooner than some other guys’ will.
* One spot that remains open is for a swingman in the bullpen, like what Brad Thompson did in recent years: someone who can pitch long relief, take a spot start and do other duties as assigned. Hawksworth is one pitcher who may factor in that race, but there’s also something to be said for a left-hander in that job.
That may be where Rule 5 Draftee Ben Jukich fits in. A third tactical lefty wouldn’t make much sense for the Cardinals. But a left-hander who can go multiple innings, and make an occasional start, might have real value. Jaime Garcia, however, likely would not be that pitcher.
Today’s playlist:
Letters to Cleo, “Veda Very Shining”
Material Issue, “Li’l Christine”
Dramarama, “Anything Anything”
R.E.M., “Living Well Is the Best Revenge”
Elvis Costello, “Radio Radio”
-M.

Thursday Spring Training tidbits: Craig, contracts, Lugo, more

Greetings from Port St. Lucie, where the sun is shining brightly and the wind is blowing briskly. The Cardinals are taking batting practice as I write this, and there will be a baseball game in an hour and a half. Life is good.

March-4-pregame-006.jpg

Anyway, on with the tidbits.

* Allen Craig has a sore left quadriceps muscle and was scratched from the travel roster today. He’s likely out for a few days.

* The Cardinals agreed to terms on 2010 contracts with all 24 of their pre-arbitration players. I’ll have stories on each of these top two topics on the site a little bit later today.
* TLR said that several factors played into his leaving some of the team’s top stars back in Jupiter today. One is the fact that the Mets are starting knuckleballer R.A. Dickey. Another, though, is that they’re going to hit live off of Adam Wainwright.
Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday, Yadier Molina and Felipe Lopez (plus youngster Tyler Henley for left-handed balance) are all hitting off of Wainwright back at camp.
One factor that went unmentioned: it’s nice to have the biggest stars play in the first home spring game, which is tomorrow.
* Veteran position players will likely get 2-3 at-bats today.
* From the pitchers who made the trip today (see the list here), three are not expected to pitch: Lance Lynn, Ben Jukich and Fernando Salas. They are here as protection, in case some of the scheduled pitchers are not able to last as long as hoped.
* TLR said that Julio Lugo has a chance to make an impression at shortstop this spring, and that his defense there is something of an unknown. Lugo was once a plus defensive shortstop, before knee troubles hampered him significantly. 
“Tyler [Greene] will play the second half today, and Tyler will start there tomorrow,” the manager said. “Julio can definitely make an impression there.
“It’s unknown because it’s a brand new year. I knew him before he had his knee injury. Now it’s a year later. He’s in as good a shape as anybody we have in camp. He’s in great shape. He looks like he’s 25 years old.”
Today’s playlist is simple and classic. It’s side one of the Rolling Stones’ Exile On Main Street, which I played on the way up this morning.
“Rocks Off”
“Rip This Joint”
“Shake Your Hips”
“Casino Boogie”
“Tumbling Dice”
-M.

Sunday camp tidbits: Games are approaching

It was another unusually chilly day in Jupiter today. This is odd stuff, though it wasn’t cool enough to force any changes to the schedule this time.

* The Cardinals only have three more workout days before Grapefruit League games begin, and while the players are no doubt antsy to get games started, TLR would happily take another week of preparations if you offered it to him.
The Cardinals will take a good bit of infield practice in the next couple of days, and they’ll play at least one “coaches game.” They also will work out inside the stadium, rather than on the back fields, one day early this week as they build toward the exhibition schedule.
* Allen Craig worked out with the infielders today, which was a bit curious. TLR said, though, that Craig’s best opportunity to make this team remains as an outfielder. That’s truer than ever, of course, with the addition of Felipe Lopez.
“He’s throwing from the outfield, and he takes infield during infield practice, then he goes to the outfield for the popup drills that we’re going to do today,” La Russa said.
“I think there’s more opportunities for him in the outfield.”
* Speaking of the outfield, the manager wouldn’t fully confirm it, but Lopez’s addition may allow the Cardinals to take only four outfielders north. If they have him and Skip Schumaker and Julio Lugo all as options for at least spot duty in the outfield, the need for five designated outfielders is lessened. I’ll have my first roster projection of this spring sometime in the coming days.
* One of the most dedicated “FOTs” (Friends of Tony) has arrived at camp. Ron Wolf, the former general manager of the Green Bay Packers, is a big baseball fan and a regular visitor at Cardinals camp. He’s been around the past couple of days and likely will be around a great deal as the spring goes on.
Today’s playlist is all Jimmy Buffett, and in fact all songs that he played last night when I went to his concert down in Sunrise.
“Son of a Son of a Sailor”
“Boat Drinks”
“One Particular Harbor”
“Southern Cross”
“Tin Cup Chalice”
Terrific show, and what a wonderful closer in “Tin Cup Chalice.”
-M.

Monday Warm-Up tidbits: Lohse, Wainwright, plenty more

The Winter Warm-Up is wrapping up and it’s almost time for the Writers’ Dinner. Here are some tidbits from another busy day. Hard to remember a Warm-Up with this much news.

* Kyle Lohse said he’s had a normal winter and hasn’t felt anything at all in his forearm since about two weeks after the season ended. He’s on his usual program and has no worries about how he will feel once he starts throwing off a mound.
“I’ve been playing catch for two weeks, and it’s like a normal this-part-of-the-year for me,” he said. “I’m not doing anything different right now. A couple weeks ago I was making sure I was doing a little extra exercises to make sure the strength was still there and I didn’t feel any tightness or any of the feelings I was feeling last year. And I wasn’t feeling it, so I feel good about where I’m at.”
* Likewise, Adam Wainwright said he’s taken no extra precautions or extra rest after enduring a career-high workload in 2009.
“I actually felt a lot more healthy during the season than I ever have, to be honest with you,” Wainwright said. “I stayed on my training program with Pete Prinzi a lot better, a lot more consistent with my work ethic between starts. I think that made me feel better each and every start I made. And actually I felt better at the end of the season than I did at the beginning. 
“So when I got done with this season, I felt like I was in better shape than I’ve ever ended a season. My body seemed to recover really well. We’ll see about, I haven’t got off the mound yet but my arm feels great, my body feels great. I’m the strongest I’ve ever been. I haven’t done anything different. It’s the same program I’ve been doing for years. It seems to be working OK. I don’t think I’ll change it.”
* La Russa said that if the Cardinals only make one move, he ranks a hitter as a higher priority than a pitcher — and ideally, a hitter who could play third base and the outfield. Felipe Lopez comes to mind.
“We’re talking about creating a competition at third,” he said. “We can use some outfield depth. If you only have one bullet, [you’d like] a guy that can do both those things.
“When you have some of the possibilities we have — like with Kyle [McClellan], with [Mitchell] Boggs, with [Blake] Hawksworth — if you have the resources, I think right now, in my opinion, probably a position player has a slightly higher priority than a pitcher.”
* Allen Craig said he’s been taking some balls at third base, after playing in the outfield all last year. That may be another way they create competition for David Freese at third, though I’m still skeptical as to whether the organization really takes Craig seriously as a third baseman.
Playlist:
U2, “Pride (In the Name of Love)”
Public Enemy, “By the Time I Get to Arizona”
Bob Dylan, “The Times They Are A Changin'”
Marvin Gaye, “Abraham, Martin and John”
Sam Cooke, “A Change Is Gonna Come”
-M.
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