Cardinals New York Minutes: 07/20/11

Wednesday thoughts from St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa from New York's Citi Field.

Summary comments from manager Tony La Russa's pre-game media discussion:

On why Albert Pujols is sitting on Wednesday: Don't want to miss with his stroke with 20 in a row. He may play the other 19. Could pinch-hit tonight against Dickey with bases loaded – it depends. Was swinging best bat on team in Cincinnati. He is our best asset offensively. Only risk on wrist is if he jams it.

On why the Pirates are doing well: Young players in second and third year. Every year they are better, getting more experience. They are pitching well. Watches box score every day. Regards them as legitimate. I can respect it, but will not get wrapped up in their comeback. We have to beat them. They are competitive.

On lower market interest in Berkman in off-season: He was hitting on one leg in 2010. Was surprising considering his career. Earned the benefit of the doubt.

On Nick Punto: Did not know what to expect in his Tuesday workout. He did what was expected in throwing from third and short. Can he maintain it? Depends on how he feels today. If he is himself, he is a valuable part of this club.

On lack of stolen bases (none in 30 games): Guys who normally do it, Tyler (Greene – in Memphis), Colby is not getting on base, Jon (Jay). Albert sneaks a few now and then. Other teams have more speed but score fewer runs. It doesn't handicap us. Doesn't want record, though.

On knuckeballer R.A. Dickey: Throws about 70 percent knuckleballs. Most KB pitchers throw more.

On Ryan Theriot's appeal hearing: Hearing it may be next week.

On missing McClellan in pen: He is not in pen so hasn't thought about it. Good thing is young players have stepped up – Salas, Sanchez, Lynn…

On whether getting anything from Sanchez this season would be bonus: Haven't heard anything in last few days because hasn't asked, but it is heading in that direction.

On adding help from outside: Lot of teams looking. Perfect list of additions would include Gibson and Sutter. All you need is best effort (in trying to trade). Half-dozen clubs looking at same guy, so have to over pay. Not may guys out there. If nothing works out, we can win with this club.

On whether more wild cards would shrink trade market: Have never even thought about that. Many variables. Thinking about knuckleballer today.

On realignment: No discussion about it. When it comes up, committee will consider all the alternatives and make good decision.

On Izzy: Big fan since he started in TLR's first NL game for Mets in 1996. Will always be a big fan of Izzy. Just more some days than others. Pulling for 300 saves because that is important for him. Definitely pulling for him.

On Thursday lineup vs. LHP and heat warnings: Yadi will catch, also fresh Albert, Theriot and Punto at second base. Matt and Freese will play. Not sure about Lance. Mentioned Cruz as possibility.

On lack of hitting since break: In four games, we pitched well enough to win, but did not hit well enough to win. Need better execution from hitters. Working on things to improve, but would not be specific.

On traditionally playing well after break: Nothing is automatic. Now 1-4 on this trip. Hope it is 5-4 when trip is over.

Previous installment: "Cardinals New York Minutes: 07/19/11"

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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