Cardinals Philly Cheese – September 19, 2011

The scoop from Philadelphia as the Cards take on the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park in Game 4 of 4. The manager speaks.

FOT (Friend of Tony) sighting:


Former La Russa player on the White Sox and ex-Phillie, Greg Luzinski, spent a while in the manager's office on Monday afternoon. Mark McGwire joined for a time.


Afterward, La Russa spoke with us for quite awhile about chemistry – both competitive and personal chemistry. The manager remembered both his 1983-84 coaching staff (Jim Leyland, Ed Brinkman, Art Kusyner, etc.) and his stars, including "The Bull" and Jerry Koosman. After a strong 42-6 finish in 1983 with a very tight-knit roster, La Russa still regrets the Sox trading Koosman to the Phils for Ron Reed prior to the 1984 campaign. TLR noted that he didn't realize that the former Mets hurler was "the heart of the club." Luzinski, for one, was not the same the second year as the personality of the team was not the same.


Manager Tony La Russa's pregame remarks


On Monday's lineup:


He said his toughest call was second base, where Nick Punto received the start. Daniel Descalso was at third for David Freese. The manager said Freese is "strong as a bull," noting his problems are because he is "pressing." TLR thinks there is pressure to hit .300 as well as "a lot of compensation (being) at stake." He says he has seen it in veterans, whether pitchers or hitters. Yadier Molina has not had a day off since Sept. 4. La Russa talked to him after Sunday night's game and he could go if needed. The manage noted that Kyle Lohse can be a "handful" at times and with nine games still left, he decided to give Gerald Laird the start.


On Monday Philly pitcher Roy Halladay:


He has eight pitches he can move all over the plate. He competes. Still, if Kyle (Lohse) gives us a chance, we can win.


On Matt Holliday:


La Russa had no news from the trainers but said he was "anxious" to know. FOX Sports Midwest's Jim Hayes learned from the club that there would be no news until the team returns to St. Louis on Tuesday.


"There is no reason to push Matt if he has soreness," said the manager. "Then it may get worse." On the other side of the coin, La Russa noted that the "club is built around Matt. If he is healthy, he plays."


On Allen Craig:


"Craig has a nice swing. It would be interesting for him to get enough at-bats to show what he can do."


Speaking about Sunday night's big win, "I don't know if anyone could see me, but I smiled in the dugout after two (failed) bunts followed by a home run," the manager said. He had hoped to get the bat in Pujols' hands with the game on the line.


On whether or not Fernando Salas and Kyle McClellan would be available to pitch Monday:


He doesn't plan to pitch either, but admitted if there was a chance to win, he might let Salas pitch to a batter or two. "If we can win the game, everyone is available," he said.


On Eduardo Sanchez:


The reliever "is healthy, but it not imperative he pitches this season." Not sure Sanchez would play winter ball either as there is a lot of pressure on native pitchers "to let it go."


On why September has been better than August, post trades:


"There are no automatic fixes all of a sudden. A number of us believed we had a better club after the trade."


On the starting pitchers:


They have been better the last few weeks. The reason Lohse and Garcia were skipped was not health or workload related. "They were disrupted to maximize wins." Now the two are effective so no slipping.


On Sunday night, Carpenter would have gone out for the ninth for 1-2 batters but he had 1-2 warning track balls in the eighth.


Not referring to Carpenter specifically, TLR was asked about pitchers going less deep into games. He thinks the mentality of pitchers today is that six or seven innings is a quality start and that may be enough. The increasing specialization of relievers is not the reason.


On Lance Berkman in the outfield:


He will go back to right field at home. He selected left on the road since it is a "shorter run to the dugout." TLR joked, "He can play wherever he wants to play."



Brian Walton can be reached via email at Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog.

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