Spring Training Notebook –Wednesday, March 22

Miscellaneous thoughts from Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida.

The room is moving

The Cardinals 2006 Press Guide is really flashy. Unlike any other one that I have ever seen, the book has a three-dimensional image on the cover that alternates between Chris Carpenter and Albert Pujols. If you have vertigo, stay away. On the positive side, every copy is spiral-bound, making them far easier to use. Expect them to be on sale at the new Busch when the season begins.


Walt sighting

I forgot to mention that despite saying that he wouldn't be found anywhere near the ballpark on the team's day off on Tuesday, General Manager Walt Jocketty showed up at the minor league games on a golf cart along with his top assistant, John Mozeliak.


And in cart #2…

In an accompanying cart nearby were Cards Vice President of Player Personnel Jerry Walker and Director of Player Development Bruce Manno. Interestingly, all the brass watched the Springfield game their entire time there. It was as if the Memphis game going on nearby wasn't.


Lindskog shows colors

However, there were a handful of people watching the Memphis game on Tuesday, including Travis Hanson's parents, Karen and Gary. Springfield Manager of Public Relations Mike Lindskog moved between the two contests. While he arrived in Florida at the same time as me, Mike underapplied his sunscreen and is paying the price.


Rowan and hog

Cardinals Equipment Manager Rip Rowan roared into the parking lot on a big Harley hog on Tuesday.


Eckstein quieter

If David Eckstein minds playing with multiple second basemen this spring, he isn't letting on. He told me they're all pros and are at the exact place on the field that he expects. Eckstein acknowledged his second spring as a Cardinal is much less eventful than the first in terms of press attention. After a slow start, his batting average has crept up to .273, while Deivi Cruz, who relieved him, went 0-for-2 and dropped to .138 on the spring.


Mateo on the way out

Mozeliak told me that the Cardinals have not yet put Juan Mateo on waivers. When it does happen, the other 28 teams have the opportunity to claim Mateo. However, he would have to remain on their major league roster all season. A far more likely scenario is that after he clears waivers, the Cards will try to convince the Cubs to let them keep Mateo in the minors. I bet the Cubs want him back and if so, they will get him.


Big-top in Jupiter

I thought this Wednesday game against the Nationals would be a relatively-quiet day. However, Alfonso Soriano's initial refusal to play in the outfield led to a media circus, both on the field and in the press box. The scribes chronicled Soriano's every step as if it mattered.


Wade shallower

Former Phillies General Manager Ed Wade, now a scout for the San Diego Padres, was in the press box during the game.


Bigbie battling bumps

Larry Bigbie did not appear in the game. What was thought to be an Achilles problem may not be. It might be a stress fracture, but at this point, no one seems to know. Or, at least I haven't heard yet.


Housekeeping required

The game was delayed ten minutes in the top of second by La Russa as he asked for some grounds crew work around the plate.


Junior (not) mint

Junior Spivey batted #8, which might be where he starts the season. La Russa likes a hitter with a bit of speed in that spot, to try to minimize the double play with the pitcher coming up next. If Bigbie could get well, he would be the most likely #2 man. His first time up, Spivey hit into a double play with runners on corners in the second. He also reached via an error, ground out and fanned, stranding a team-high four runners. Spivey's batting average dropped to .149.


Slip sliding Skip

In the third, after just missing a home run foul to left, Pujols slapped a gapper into right center to score the second and third runs. Schumaker was the second runner and was running so hard that he fell between third and home. As long he was down anyway, Schumaker went ahead and slid head first toward the plate. Two slides for the price of one.


Adventures of J-Rod

On a double by Soriano in the fourth, John Rodriguez did not handle the ball cleanly in the corner and made a timid sidearm throw to the shortstop. In the seventh, he moved to right and again mishandled a ball. Neither were errors, but I didn't like what I saw in the field. He was on base three times, though, raising his spring average to .237.


National defense

The good news is that the Nats defense is far worse. They committed three errors in the first four innings. That team has all the makings of a 100-loss squad to me. MLB should have sold the team during that short period of time when they were decent (the first half of last season).


That Marquis guy can hit

After Spivey was hit by a pitch, Marquis blooped a double over the drawn-in third baseman. Eckstein followed with identical hit to right to score two, before making a gaffe as he was badly doubled off second by Soriano on an easy fly by Albert. J-Rod hit a ball to the base of the wall for an RBI double, scoring Rolen. In all, five runs scored in the fourth.


Marquis masterful

Only one hit and one earned run in 5-2/3 innings for Marquis. It was the longest outing of any Cards pitcher so far this spring. Marquis is slated to start two more games this spring, but looks ready to go. I hope he doesn't peak too soon.


Albert exits early

Pujols was hit by a pitch in the bottom of the sixth. He was removed for Chris Duncan as a pinch runner, but did not appear to be hurt. Scott Spiezio erased Duncan in a 3-6 double play.


Spiezio and Daubach

Though I did not hear it directly, I was told that Brian Daubach has already agreed to go to Memphis if needed. That is good for both parties, as Spiezio seems to have claimed the roster spot Daubach might have earned. Not so fast. Spiezio made a fielding and a throwing error on a single play in the eighth inning. But, seriously, he probably didn't undo three good weeks at once.


Benes playing his way to Memphis?

Alan Benes was the victim of Spiezio's dual errors, but also walked a batter and allowed a hit to load the bases. Non-roster invitee outfielder Kenny Kelly sharply singled two runs in. At least his pair of runs were unearned.


Izzy closes

Just doing his job, as the Cards closer collected the final three outs of a 9-3 win. Izzy did walk a batter, but he was erased in a double play.


Good guys in evidence

Long after the game was over, Gary Bennett, Chris Duncan and Alan Benes were still signing autographs for many of the over-8000 Cardinals fans in attendance. I think Duncan waited for every single fan. He is still signing as I post this, 30 minutes after the end of the contest.


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


© 2006 stlcardinals.scout.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed.

The Cardinal Nation Top Stories