Cardinals Major League Notebook: 04/26/11

A Lance Berkman homecoming is ahead as the Cardinals invade Houston for three starting Tuesday night.

INSIDE PITCH

 

Outfielder Lance Berkman, who played 12 seasons in Houston, will make his first return to Minute Maid Park on Tuesday since he was traded to the New York Yankees last July.

The Cardinals' outfielder, who lives in Houston and sent his family back a day ahead of time before the start of a three-game series, said, "I'm not crazy about going back in there. I felt like I've kind of turned the page and part of me just wants to be done with it. But I know I'm going to have to go back in there and face a lot of questions.

"I guess it's inevitable. When I signed here, I knew we were going to go in there three times, so I'm ready to go and to get all the hoopla, if there is going to be any, out of the way."

Berkman, a .297 hitter for his career, has batted .305 with 151 home runs in the 779 games he played at Minute Maid with the Astros. But, after slumping to .248 last year when he was battling the after-effects of the knee surgery he had in spring training, he is among the National League leaders in batting at .377.

Returning to Houston would be more difficult, said Berkman, if he wasn't hitting well.

"It would be embarrassing," he said. "You don't want them to be able to say, 'Well, we were right to get rid of him.' It will be nice to walk in there feeling like I'm swinging the bat pretty well."

Berkman is riding a five-game hitting streak, going 10-for-17 during that stretch, and he has 12 extra-base hits -- six home runs and six doubles -- high on the club.

NOTES, QUOTES

1B Albert Pujols' left hamstring injury is not believed to be serious, GM John Mozeliak told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and Pujols is listed as day-to-day. Pujols left Sunday's game in the seventh inning after he pulled up lame while running to first base.

LHP Jaime Garcia, who will be making his final April start Tuesday night at Houston, has a 5-1 record and 1.24 earned run average for eight April starts in the last two seasons. His only career start against Houston came last year, when he was the loser in an 18-4 game in which Garcia gave up eight runs, only four earned.

RHP Mitchell Boggs, called on for three save opportunities in the last week and having converted all of them, is the Cardinals' closer, whether anybody says that or not. "I'd say that's an accurate description of the current situation," is the way pitching coach Dave Duncan put it.

LHP Brian Tallet remained in St. Louis as the team went to Houston. Tallet, on the disabled list because of a broken right hand, is scheduled to have the stitches removed Monday. In the meantime, he will throw side sessions every other day.

RHP Ryan Franklin, deposed of the closer's role in a rough first month, has shaved his trademark goatee. "The mojo in the beard ran out," Franklin said. "Now it's time to move on to something else."

The Cardinals have three shutouts for the season, two individually by RHP Kyle Lohse and LHP Jaime Garcia, and one divided among RHP Jake Westbrook and RHPs Fernando Salas, Eduardo Sanchez and Mitchell Boggs.

BY THE NUMBERS: 7 - Number of career home runs C Yadier Molina has against Cincinnati, including the game-winner on Sunday. That is his most against any opponent. He also has seven against Los Angeles.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I'd actually be OK with him hitting three home runs against us in the opening game, just as long as we win the game, 4-3."

- Jeff Bagwell, former Astros star, on the return of former Astro OF Lance Berkman to Minute Maid Park on Tuesday night.

ROSTER REPORT

MEDICAL WATCH:

1B Albert Pujols (hamstring strain) left the April 24 game. He is day-to-day.

2B Skip Schumaker (strained right triceps) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 16. Manager Tony La Russa said Schumaker might be out longer than 15 days.

OF Allen Craig (left groin strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 17. He hopes to return after the minimum absence.

LHP Bryan Tallet (fractured right hand) went on 15-day disabled list April 13. He had screws inserted in his hand, and he hopes to return in early May. Tallet, who is scheduled to have stitches removed from his hand May 1, stayed behind as the Cardinals went on the road April 26, and was scheduled to throw side sessions every other day.

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

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. 26 at ASTROS: Jaime Garcia (3-0, 1.44) vs. Bud Norris (1-1, 4.91) 7:05 p.m. CDT (FOX Sports Midwest, KMOX Radio and Cardinals Radio Network).


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