Spring Training News and Tidbits

First Spring Training Game will be against the Florida Marlins, March 25 12:05 St.Louis time.
The opening lineup.

P. Blake Hawksworth
C. Jason LaRue
1B. Albert Pujols
2B. Skip Schumacher
3B. Joey Bombs
SS. Kalil Greene
LF. Colby Rasmus
CF. Rick Ankiel
RF. Ryan Ludwick
DH. Chris Duncan

On his first start at third base Joe Mather will be wearing the number 7. Joe was happy to retire his old number 62.

The Cardinals added minor-league Justin Fiske to the spring training roster as a non-roster invitee. The lefty had one of the more impressive seasons last summer, and he was one of the players raced through the minors. Fiske threw at three levels, finishing the season in Class AA. In 40 appearances (10 starts), the lefty went 4-0, 3.26 ERA and he had 96 strikeouts in 85 2/3 innings. The Cardinals want a young pitcher who throws strikes and who can be ready to handle innings now. Fiske has been throwing bullpens and pitched to hitters on his first day in camp.

Oh, and he’s lefthanded. The Cardinals are mining their minors for any lefty to add to the depth chart.

Say Hello to Justin Fiske

Joey Bombs

With David Freese diagnosed with a sore Achilles, Joe Mather is now seeing more time over at 3B. Freese a shoe in at that position now has a competitior at his position.
Joe Mather does almost nothing in anonymity. Listed at 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, he cuts a figure even more imposing than those measurements would suggest. He hits with tremendous power, earning him the nickname “Joey Bombs.” And as a pure athlete, perhaps not even Rick Ankiel equals Mather’s physique among Cardinals players. Yet Mather’s transition from outfield to infield has not garnered nearly the ink or electrons of teammate Skip Schumaker’s shift. Whereas Schumaker’s move to second base has been the dominant story of the Cards’ spring thus far, Mather’s shift to third base has been much quieter. There are a couple of understandable reasons for that. Mather could move back to the outfield as soon as Troy Glaus returns from shoulder surgery. And Mather played a good bit in the infield in the Minor Leagues — including 41 games at first base at Double-A Springfield as recently as 2007. Mather, like Schumaker, was drafted as a shortstop.
“It’s a different Spring Training in the infield, at third base, than it is in the outfield,” Mather said. “Nothing against the outfield. I love the outfield, too. It’s a change of pace coming in and I’m having a lot of fun learning how to play the infield again.”
Mather and Schumaker are two of the players in an eight-man infield workout group that includes Albert Pujols, Chris Duncan and Khalil Greene. And given that nothing in Cardinals camp is a coincidence, you can draw some conclusions from that. Both moves are being taken seriously by manager Tony La Russa. He’s looked good in the drills,” La Russa said. “He really has. It’s a consensus. We talk about it, the guys who are watching. You’ve got to look good in the practice before you look good in the games.”
Mather is getting extensive work with infield coach Jose Oquendo. He’s concentrating mostly on footwork, which is a completely different chore at third base than in the outfield. Though he played some first base in the high Minors, he hasn’t made more than two appearances at third base in a season since 2004 at Peoria of the low Class A Midwest League.

Joel Pinero Heartbroken and Other Musings

A few days ago Team Puerto Rico’s Manager Jose Oquendo told Joel Pinero he won’t be needing him in his rotation this year in the World Baseball Classic. Pinero shot back saying that Oquendo disrespected him by not choosing him as a starting pitcher for the team. In a meeting with LaRussa, Pinero got very emotional over the ordeal. To me it seems the reason Oquedno decided not to take him has to do with Pinero being the Cardinals 5th pitcher in the rotation. Pinero needs to stay for Spring Training to prepare himself.

The Cardinals staged their first full-squad workout Tuesday with only one position player not on the field.

Four weeks after surgery repaired damaged muscle near his right shoulder, third baseman Troy Glaus is not close to resuming baseball-related activities and remains more than a month from appearing in a Grapefruit League game.

The 40-minute operation “could have been absolutely nothing,” Glaus said. “It could be what it is now: eight, 10 or 12 weeks (from the date of the surgery). It could have been four to six months, or it could have been six to 12 months. I had no idea. I didn’t think it would be eight to 12 months because there was nothing on the picture. But no one knew for sure.”

Team officials set Glaus’ possible return at mid- to late April. Unknown is whether he will require a minor-league rehab assignment before being activated. Glaus described the timetable for his return as “kind of vague.” He has yet to swing or throw since surgery and is still not allowed to lift weights. Speaking publicly for the first time since surgery, Glaus said the exploratory procedure’s timing is regrettable but can be explained by the failure of several MRI tests to detect the problem.

So who will be out next Third Baseman? I think it will be David Freese. This kid has power and a great defensive abilities.

David Freese

Adam Kennedy Released

Today the Cardinals have placed Adam Kennedy on waivers this morning. Other teams have 48 hours to claim him and his $4 million dollars. With Kennedy finally out of the picture, second-base opens up a big competition between Skip Schumacher, Brendan Ryan, Joe Thurston, Brian Barden, Jarrett Hoffpauir, and Tyler Greene. The Cardinals have also made it clear that they are not going after any FA’s for 2B. So don’t bother to dream about a Ray Durham or a Orlando Hudson to fill that position. The last fulltime Second-baseman that lasted more than one year is Fernando Vina. He played for the Cards from 2000 to 2003.
Cardinal Management is now looking at Skip Schumaker to be the next in line for 2B. It has been reported that Skip has been taking ground balls during Spring Training this week.

I like Skip Schumaker, but I would rather to see the Cardinals either trade or pick up a FA Second baseman. Mark Grudzielanik is still available, I am sure we can grab him at a cheap price by now. On the other hand I believe the Cards want to go cheap with a rookie at this position. I wish Skip luck.

Braden Looper is head for the Brewers. GM Doug Melvin had confirmed it today. Looper’s Agent and Melvin are in negoitations at this time

Joe Torre’s The Yankee Years: Plus More

The new Joe Torre book The Yankee Years was just released this week and now its causing a hail-storm of controversy. This book is on my must read list. Personally I have always hated the Yankees being a Cardinal fan. To me they ooze arrogance. I guess with the big egos and the big paychecks that would cause a large amount of arrogance. On the other hand as a Baseball Fan I do enjoy their history. As a young boy I do recall watching such Yankee greats like Reggie Jackson, Thurmon Munson, Catfish Hunter and Don Mattingly respectfully wearing the pinstripes. They where Yankee greats to me. Well back to the book, The Yankee Years chronicles the amazing stories on the diamond. The stirring comeback in the 1996 World Series against the heavily favored Braves. The wonder of 1998, when Torre led the Yanks to the most wins in Major League history. The draining and emotional drama of the 2001 World Series. The incredible twists and turns of the epic Game 7 of the 2003 American League Championship Series against the Red Sox, in which two teams who truly despised each other battled pitch by pitch until the stunning extra-inning home run. The book is also getting mixed reviews.

This is how I remember Joe Torre. Joe played for the Cardinals from 1969 to 1974. As a Cardinal he appeared in four All-Star Games. In 1971 he was the NL-MVP. He was a very popular player here in St.Louis along with other greats like Lou Brock, Ted Simmons, Steve Carlton and Bob Gibson. He then came back to St.Louis to manage the team from 1991 to 1995.
As a manager he could’nt get past second place. His teams would manage to finish in third place.

I wish Joe Torre the best of luck.