Cards Clubhouse Friday Pre-Game Happenings

Brian Walton reports on behind-the-scenes happenings in the Cardinals' clubhouse at Washington's RFK Stadium on Friday.

The clubhouse itself is cramped, almost as much as the one at New York's Shea Stadium, but the mood among the players and coaches was quietly upbeat.

TLR touched
Tony La Russa admitted that he was so choked up over Thursday night's festivities over his historic win that he had trouble sleeping last night.

Grudz is back in town
Mark Grudzielanek was welcomed by his teammates, as he rejoined the team in its second stop in a four-city road trip. His knee did not look to be wrapped or swollen. Grudz walked in his usual slightly bow-legged gait and if there was any limp, it was slight. In the audio clip here on the site, La Russa said he expects Grudz to start Saturday and Sunday.

Watching the Marlins and those also-rans
The two televisions in the clubhouse as well as the one in La Russa's office were turned into the final innings of the Cubs-Marlins' game. Marquis, Walker and McKay were among those watching the big screen while La Russa eyed the game in his office.

King is not struggling
Ray King is in general less jovial than last season, as should be expected. However, just don't suggest that he is "struggling". In a good-natured manner, King ribbed's Matthew Leach for using that word in a recent Sporting News column. King pointed out that he is making over 60 appearances with a 2.9x ERA and wondered out loud what would be said if his ERA was five. I thought, but didn't say, "Then we would write that you stink." I wisely stayed quiet other than to join in the needling of Leach, who is a great guy, by the way.

Luna watching out for Albert
As the infielders crowded into La Russa's office for their pre-series meeting, Hector Luna slipped out the back. I thought the worst – that he was playing hooky. But, he soon reappeared with Albert Pujols in tow. Albert was in the trainer's room getting treatment and probably forgot the time.

Ripping Soup
Suppan, who is accessible even on days he pitches, was sitting alone eating his pre-game meal about 5pm when Equipment Manager Rip Rowan walked up. Rowan, with damp hair and shirt, told Suppan it was raining and the tarp had been put onto the field. Suppan asked, "Really?" Rip replied to the affirmative. About ten minutes later, Soup found Rowan and asked again. This time, he fessed up that he was only joking.

All the President's Men
The Cardinals brass is out in force for the weekend. The traveling party includes general manager Walt Jocketty and assistants Jerry Walker and John Mozeliak. Among the baseball men here to greet them was former Pirates' general manager Syd Thrift.

Barry back home
Cardinals head trainer Barry Weinberg was pleased to take a trip back to his home turf. Weinberg is a Silver Spring, MD native.

Three Darlings
Before the game, former major league pitcher and current commentator Ron Darling stuck his head inside La Russa's office to offer congratulations. Accompanying him were his two young sons.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at

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