Cardinals Major League Notebook: 04/19/11

The St. Louis Cardinals have a closer crisis. "Plan B" has yet to be disclosed.

INSIDE PITCH

 

One-tenth of the way into the season, the Cardinals seem to have their first crisis.

Is 38-year-old right-hander Ryan Franklin, who has blown four saves in five opportunities, still good enough to be their closer? Or should he be moved to a setup role for a while and somebody else, like young right-hander Mitchell Boggs, be tried in the role?

Franklin, who had 27 saves in 29 chances last year after ending the previous season with a rough September, might have lost a little confidence in himself and that can't be good for anyone.

"It's just frustrating for me," Franklin said. "It's frustrating for everybody else when we lose because I'm not doing my job."

After Sunday's 2-1 loss at Los Angeles when Franklin served up his third home run in 4 2/3 innings, a two-run shot by Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp in the bottom of the ninth, manager Tony La Russa wasn't tipping his hand.

However, pitching coach Dave Duncan said: "I'm sure we'll talk about what's best for our team and what's best for (Franklin). Any time you're put in a situation that a closer is put in ... any time you don't succeed a high percentage of the time, it's real easy for it to affect you.

"Once, you can blow it off. Twice, you can blow it off. If it happens more than that, it's really difficult for that not to affect you."

Boggs, whose spring got off to a slow start when he suffered a lower back injury which kept him out nearly two weeks, has struck out 12 in nine innings, giving up only three hits and two runs.

NOTES, QUOTES

  RHP Chris Carpenter (0-2) remains winless after four starts, but he felt good about his seven scoreless innings Sunday in Los Angeles, an outing which followed one of his worst, when he gave up eight runs in four innings at Arizona. "Twelve years ago, it would have caused a crappy month if I had a bad start," Carpenter said. "But I know I feel good. I'm healthy. My stuff is good. I wasn't that concerned about it."

  2B Skip Schumaker, a left-handed hitter, missed the last two games because of a hyper-extended right elbow and the Cardinals give him another game off on Tuesday because the Washington Nationals have LHP John Lannan starting.

  OF Shane Robinson, who is at Class AAA Memphis, will require reconstructive facial surgery after suffering a broken orbital bone in a collision with outfielder Andrew Brown Saturday at Iowa. Brown suffered a concussion. Robinson missed most of last season at Memphis because of a shoulder dislocation he sustained on May 8.

  RHP Ryan Franklin, who is struggling early in the season, has given up six hits in 12 at-bats against right-handed hitters, including three home runs. Normally a fast starter, Franklin had been 7-for-7 in April save opportunities in each of the two previous seasons.

  C Gerald Laird has started four games and the Cardinals have won all four. Laird has handled RHP Kyle McClellan twice and RHPs Jake Westbrook and Kyle Lohse once apiece.

BY THE NUMBERS: 5 - Number of Cardinals regulars who are hitting .300 or better.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We could easily have won three more. I like our team; I'm pretty excited about what we've got."

- LF Matt Holilday, on the Cardinals' 6-4 record on a recent trip in which they lost the first two games in San Francisco's last at-bat and then the finale in the ninth inning Sunday in Los Angeles.

ROSTER REPORT

MEDICAL WATCH:

2B Skip Schumaker (hyperextended right elbow) was unavailable Sunday, the result of a swing he took on Friday night. He didn't play Saturday either. He was examined on Monday's off day and could be headed to the DL.

OF Allen Craig (left groin) was hurt stealing a base Saturday night. He was examined on Monday's off day and could be headed to the DL.

LHP Bryan Tallet (fractured right hand) went on 15-day disabled list April 13.

RHP Bryan Augenstein (strained right groin) went on the 15-day disabled list April 13.

INF Nick Punto (hernia surgery in February 2011) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 22. He hopes to return in late April.

RHP Adam Wainwright (Tommy John surgery in February 2011) went on the 60-day disabled list March 25. He will miss the entire 2011 season.

Next game: Tue., Apr. 19 vs. NATIONALS: Jake Westbrook (1-1, 7.63) vs. John Lannan (1-1, 3.38) 7:15 p.m. CDT (FOX Sports Midwest, KMOX Radio and Cardinals Radio Network).


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