Cardinals New York Minutes: 07/19/11

News from the St. Louis Cardinals at Citi Field in New York as the three-game series begins.

As I entered the absolutely-quiet St. Louis Cardinals clubhouse at about 3:30 P.M., I spied a dozen players. In an indication of how technology has been injected into their (and our) lives, ten of them were silently engaged either on their PDAs, iPads or watching video.

My first conversation was with injured infielder Nick Punto, who said, "I am going to work out and see how it goes. I think I am going to be OK." He took grounders at short and third before the game, a condition of manager Tony La Russa for Punto to remain on the active roster. Referring to his throws, TLR believes Punto is worried about "letting it go."

Given he has been missing from action in favor of Tony Cruz, I asked reserve catcher Gerald Laird how his hand is doing. He said he is fine, but still building strength. He is justifiably proud of his younger brother Brandon, who was just called up for the first time by the Yankees. Unfortunately for Gerald, the Yanks are in Tampa. The entire Laird clan also traveled there, so he can't see his brother in person now.

A number of players were sampling the New York sights during their day off Monday.

Wednesday's starter Kyle McClellan said he and Skip Schumaker took a double-decker bus tour, but it only lasted ten minutes, supposedly because the second baseman didn't like the heat. They went to a movie instead.

David Freese traveled to Ground Zero and watched the construction of the Freedom Tower. The third baseman was one of the many who wore out shoe leather, walking all the way from the team hotel to Central Park.

Daniel Descalso tweeted earlier that he took the number 7 train, so I asked him about it. Turns out that Jon Jay recommended it from last season. No one recognized Descalso or teammates Tony Cruz and Lance Lynn on the subway.

As I spoke with P.J. Walters and Lynn, we all remembered the last time we spoke was just a month ago in a very different place – the clubhouse at Principal Park in Des Moines. P.J.'s wife Britney joined him in the Big Apple. The two window-shopped the entire length of Fifth Avenue on Monday, said the pitcher. I got the feeling he'd rather shop online. Mrs. Walters is due in early November.

Albert Pujols noted that he has his entire family in New York. His son A.J. was one of a pack of six Cardinals kids running around - two of Matt Holliday's sons, two from Mark McGwire, and one from Trever Miller. Holliday had pre-game watching duty and it was keeping him busy. His comment to me is that they are worse when together. Of course.

Al Hrabosky mentioned his recent neck surgery was intended to relieve headaches that have plagued him since March because of nerves rubbing against bone spurs. In New York, Al and Dan McLaughlin are doing TV with John Rooney and Ricky Horton on radio. It was also great to see former Cardinals broadcaster Wayne Hagin, now calling games for the Mets on flagship WFAN.

Tony Talk: From the manager's pre-game remarks

On centerfield: "A good problem to have. I have confidence in both players." "Both will play and both will get rest." Has seen some good things in Colby's BP. Put in a lot of effort. "Key for him (Colby) is to do more versus right-handers." Playing time gets down to performance and production. Will not make Colby a bench player, because if he gets going, he can be a game-changer.

On Allen Craig: Will begin play with Memphis later this week or start of next depending on how his knee feels. Same with how often he will play.

On Albert Pujols: Only concern about pain is if he has to dive. "He will hopefully play longer than I manage."

On the rotation: Did not skip anyone in first half, but gave all a fifth, extra day when possible. If last six weeks, you have four guys going well and one struggling, you might skip that one. However, he also commented that September games are important and some guys have nothing in October because they are worn out.

On Ryan Theriot's suspension: Not surprised because there was contact, but hoping it will be cut down on appeal since contact was cap bill, not chest bump or putting hands on the ump.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Look for his weekly minor league column on Thursdays at Follow Brian on Twitter.

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