Stories I am working on
Interview with Cardinals fans, La Russa Monday comments, a chat with Bob Gibson, another Rick Ankiel analysis and Dave McKay on baserunning drills.
Sometimes, the most innocuous sights are sublime. This morning, as I walked onto the practice fields, my initial sight was 4/5 of the starting rotation plus closer Jason Isringhausen, long tossing. (Jeff Suppan, today's starter was watching.) The guys were talking and laughing together while they went about their work. It was a sight to see.
Ankiel's special attention
As I moved onto the main field at Roger Dean, there were teacher Dave McKay and student Rick Ankiel working one-on-one. McKay was instructing Ankiel on how to make breaks on fly balls and how to turn his head, given the direction the ball is hit and the location of the sun. To think that anyone could walk in and play a credible major league quality outfield is absurd. The average fan (or writer, for that matter) may not fully appreciate what is involved.
Ted Simmons made an appearance in the press box before 11am, where he studied both teams' batting practice intently. "Simba" (who lost the long locks years ago) was inducted into the 2005 class of the Missouri State Hall of Fame. He currently serves as a Major League Scout for the San Diego Padres and still lives in the St. Louis area. MO HoF link
King woos ex
As the Cardinals moved off the main field, yielding to the Braves' turn to take batting practice, Ray King stayed behind. King, who pitched for Atlanta during the 2003 season, seemed to have dozens of friends, both in uniform and not.
Eckstein, Schumaker (lf), Pujols, Mabry (3b), Cedeno (rf), Grudz, Taguchi (cf), Diaz, Suppan. Other pitchers scheduled to appear include Wainwright, Jarvis, Al Reyes, Cali and Rust.
Chris Carpenter takes the Ft. Lauderdale mound on Tuesday against the Orioles. Others who are slated to appear include Izzy, Eldred, Myers and Pulsipher.
Ten cuts announced
Rhett Parrott was assigned to Memphis, while nine others were reassigned to minor league camp. They are pitchers Toby Borland, Jeremy Cummings, Chris Gissell, Hector Mercado, Nerio Rodriguez and Brad Thompson. Also, infielder Mike Bell, Chris Duncan and Wilton Guerrero.
Yesterday's interview subject, leadoff man David Eckstein, reached base three times Sunday. His on-base percentage of .583 is tied for best in the National League. Eckstein is also second in Florida with seven runs scored. Save it for the regular season, man!
The Cardinals' ERA this spring is 2.86, which is by far the best in MLB this spring. Honestly, it is hard to find anything to worry about other than health of the players.
On to the game…
Suppan was not sharp, not having pitched in game action for ten days. He pitched inside in a simulated game last Wednesday when it rained all over Florida. Suppan seemed to be consistently leaving the ball up, getting behind in the count.
Braves on top
With two outs in the second, outfielder Raul Mondesi slammed a home run out to left. There was no doubt. Rafael Furcal had singled and stole second in the first and then homered to right in the third. Marcus Giles then doubled off the left-field wall and scored on a 3-1 count single by Chipper Jones. Chipper scored as Andruw Jones slammed a 2-1 pitch over the fence. Braves 5-0.
Ankiel pitches, er…
The PA announcer slipped when announcing Rick Ankiel as a pinch-hitter for Suppan in the bottom of the third. He said "Now pitching, pinch-hitting for the Cardinals, #49, Rick Ankiel. He ground into a force play, and took third on a double by Eckstein into the left field corner.
Suppan's day done
Suppan allowed six hits and a walk, striking out three. All five runs allowed were earned. "You never want to get hit around. It's only my second outing."
Adam Wainwright completed two fine innings, allowing a single hit, no walks and fanned one. Wainwright says that he is working from the left side of the rubber this spring, based on advice from several of the Cardinals' veterans, making his sinker more effective to right-handed batters.
Middle relief effective
Kevin Jarvis, Evan Rust and Carmen Cali each pitched a scoreless frame.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.