Tuesday Cardinals Pre-Game Happenings

Insignificant clubhouse and on-field happenings before Tuesday's game against the Astros.

Not really all that much going on today. The team is coming off a well-deserved off day and seemed loose. I took a pass by some of the injured players in my afternoon wanderings.

 

Rolen looks … normal

Scott Rolen appeared sans sling. In fact, there was no apparent outward indication of his shoulder surgery. He shook hands as normal and seemed in decent spirits. In an indication that everyone has short memories, Rolen let out a yelp or two of frustration when upon reaching his stall, he found his chair was gone. Neither Larry Walker nor Reggie Sanders showed much sympathy, though Reggie seemed interested in Scott's new cell phone.

 

Walker has some chance of playing in ‘06

Walker was happy to be in the lineup and still willing to discuss his fourth cortisone shot in his neck. He left the door open for next season, saying it is "more than likely that he will retire, but there is still some chance" that he will return if the right set of baseball and personal circumstances come to pass. He made it clear that he didn't want to be like boxers who announce their retirement, go on a farewell tour, only to change their mind later.

 

Edmonds owly

Jim Edmonds was mildly, but good-naturedly irritated about all the press activity around his neighbors in the clubhouse, Walker and Rolen. "You've been around here long enough. Give me space," he pleaded with our horde. Rolen was still looking for his chair.

 

What does TLR like about Busch?

Tony La Russa spent much of his pre-game comments answering questions about what part of Busch he would miss. I never really heard the answer, but I know he dislikes the noisy plumbing, which seems to erupt at the most inopportune moments, filling his office with a loud groaning, grinding sound.

 

Watching Oswalt

Abraham Nunez was watching tape of Astros starter Roy Oswalt on the big televisions in the clubhouse. As one of his at-bats from earlier in the season appeared, Albert Pujols stopped and studied it carefully before moving on.

 

Suppan serious about lumber

Jeff Suppan, coming off his recent hitting success, seemed to take an extra moment or two selecting the bats from the top of his stall in preparation for batting practice. I asked him about it. Suppan showed me that with a marker, he labeled the bat "BP". He likes to use bats that are clean and not marked and scarred during games. Not surprisingly, considering his starts lately, Suppan is in excellent spirits.

 

Late for work?

A few moments later, Suppan almost knocked me down in the runway between the clubhouse and dugout. He apologized, saying that he thought he was late for pitcher stretching. It appeared that he was correct, although I noticed that Julian Tavarez was even later.

 

Still working hard

Some guys never stop working. Three hours before game time, David Eckstein was deep in conversation with Jose Oquendo standing near first base. Soon Jose was hitting grounders to Eckstein and Luna at short as the two took extra infield.

 

Sanders steaming

Reggie Sanders was carrying his ever-present cup of steaming coffee, both in the clubhouse and when joining the group for stretching. He looked same as always, which I consider good.

 

Diaz handles Albert photo-op

Pujols called Einar Diaz up from his stretching to come and snap a photo of Albert and a fan, to whom he was speaking in Spanish on the dirt track.

 

Horton on radio

Cards broadcaster Wayne Hagin told me that cohort Mike Shannon is off, so he and Ricky Horton will call all nine innings on radio. That is tomorrow for sure, but I think Shannon is absent today, too. I guess even the radio crew veterans need to rest up before the playoffs.

 

Hagin worried about San Fran

Hagin has a feeling that San Francisco has a chance to overtake the Padres based on what he saw Monday night, as Trevor Hoffman and mates lost in the ninth. His warning was really a hope that the team does not assume all playoff preparations should be for San Diego. Interesting point.

 

Another Duncan?

There was a very tall, very blond, Duncan-looking young man in street clothes on the field and in the dugout during batting practice. I forgot to check for sure, but my bet is that if Chris Duncan has an older brother, I just saw him. Update: Jason Scott reminded me that Chris' brother Shelley is a Yankees farmhand.

 

Schutzenhofer sighting

Number 90 was a strange figure to me on the field during batting practice. And, his name was so long, I had trouble reading it. Turns out that Palm Beach first baseman Andy Schutzenhofer's father assists the team with batting practice. He assisted Joe Pettini, who was hitting infield fungoes and later tossed a round of BP. Dad looks so young and in such good shape, I though it was the son. (Thanks to Jason Scott for setting me straight.)

 

Simba sighting, too

Former Cardinals catcher and current San Diego scout Ted Simmons was visible in the press box.

 

Tuesday's lineup

Eckstein, Edmonds, Pujols, Walker, Sanders, Grudzielanek, Nunez, Molina, Morris.

 

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brwalton@earthlink.net


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