Game Observations – March 12

Brian Walton reports from the Press Box at Port St. Lucie on Saturday's game against the Mets.

Vincent in the house
Former commissioner Fay Vincent was on the field prior to the game. Both Tony La Russa and Red Schoendienst joined Vincent at his golf cart for conversation.

McKay on Canseco
I spoke with coach Dave McKay before the game about the Canseco steroids controversy. McKay spoke with honesty and some bewilderment about a man, Canseco, who he clearly is still fond of. McKay, who developed the A's weight training program in the ‘80s, was surprised that he was left out of Canseco's book. Dave recounted a call from Canseco one night at midnight, asking him to join Jose at a 24-hour health center to assist in his workout as an indicator of how committed he was to his role.

On the other hand, McKay recognizes the reality of the situation and understands his name being missing is likely a blessing. McKay reiterated that he never saw Canseco or any player use steroids, though he did hear Jose talk about it. He also noted that no one would necessarily believe him except for family and friends, so he has wisely turned down interview requests on the subject.

First roster cuts Sunday night or Monday morning
Expect a few relatively minor cuts to be announced after Sunday's split squad action. Tony La Russa was non-committal as to whether they would be pitching or hitting cuts or both.

Ankiel on Sunday travel squad
Outfielder Rick Ankiel will be on the split squad traveling to the Baltimore game at Fort Lauderdale Sunday. With a designated hitter available, it makes a lot of sense.

Regular lineup again
For the second time in three days, Tony La Russa sent out his projected opening day lineup. Eckstein, Walker, Pujols, Rolen, Edmonds, Sanders, Grudz, Molina and Matt Morris.

Morris is the attraction in his first spring action, expected to be two innings and around 30 pitches. The pitchers on the Saturday travel roster include Eldred, File, Mercado, Morris, Myers, Pulsipher and Rust.

Mets regular lineup, too
With the exception of Eric Valent in right, the Mets started their every day lineup of Reyes, Matsui, Beltran, Piazza, Floyd, Mientkiewicz, Wright, Valent (for Mike Cameron) and Glavine.

Attire alert
For the second consecutive day, the Cards wore their red caps with their road grays. Call me the traditionalist that I am, but I prefer that tried and true look. I don't recall the last time they wore this combo in the regular season, but I'd like to see it more often. In spring training at least, the decision on the cap color is left to the equipment man. By the way, I checked out Julian Tavarez' cap yesterday and it was pretty clean.

On the other side, at least for one day, the Mets dumped their hideous orange spring training jerseys for a basic blue. Good move.

On to the game…

Albert Crusing
The first time I saw Pujols cruise a bit so far this spring was when he hit a sharp grounder to third base to end the first inning. By the way, I neglected to mention that he was a boring 2-for-4 on Friday.

Morris allowed a hit to deep short to Jose Reyes to start the game, but fanned Carlos Beltran and Mike Piazza looking to end the first in a very, very impressive initial frame. Piazza came in hitting .566 and Beltran .333. Doug Mientkiewicz singled in the second, but Morris then fanned David Wright. It was an impressive initial performance – two hits and three strikeouts with no walks. 21 of his 32 pitches went for strikes.

One pretzel with salt
During the third, I got up to buy a pretzel and guess who else had the same idea? Mike Shannon. Now you know what he does when he is off mic during road games. Like me, he was foraging for food.

Cal Crunched
David Wright smacked a two-run double off Cal Eldred in the fourth to get the Mets on the board. Hitters are 6-for-16, .375, against Cal in early action this spring. All I can say is that he started slowly last spring, too, but the end is one year closer.

Beltran Blasts Myers
Carlos Beltran took Mike Myers out to left in the fifth. I am less confident in Myers after he has allowed a run in two of his three appearances this spring.

Molina, Hart RBIs
Yadier Molina clubbed a gapper to left center to score Mark Grudzielanek with the first two hits and the first run of the day for the Cards in the top of the sixth off Met Dae-Sung Koo. Molina scored on a single by Bo Hart.

Threat in Ninth Snuffed
Against veteran Scott Strickland in the ninth, the Cards put their best threat of the day in place as Scott Seabol and Skip Schumaker singled. The latter was erased on a fielder's choice by Raul Gonzalez. John Mabry was walked intentionally to load the bases, but Mike Bell lined out to left to end the game. Mets 3-2.

Coming later tonight are Tony La Russa comments and an exclusive interview with Cardinals utilityman John Mabry.

The Cardinal Nation Top Stories