Spring Training Notebook – Saturday, March 25

Comments about Saturday's 5-1 Cardinals victory over a group of reserves masquerading as the Los Angeles Dodgers.

It is spring training
The Dodgers brought a line-up to Jupiter that had no regular-season starters in it other than pitcher Brad Penny, breaking a spring training gentlemen's rule. Still, Sidney Ponson's two-hit six-inning stint was good to see.

Spivey declared winner
Wayne Hagin and Rick Horton report that Tony La Russa has declared Junior Spivey his second baseman.

The Monster is back
On Thursday, the discussion with Tony La Russa included the new ballpark, when the noisy plumbing in the old one came up. ESPN's Jerry Crasnick built a story around it, though he left out the part where I offered to give Tony an audio clip of "The Monster". (We ran this story back in January.) The audio is now in Tony's possession. We do it all here at Scout.com.

Juan es numero dos
Juan Encarnacion made his Cardinals debut in the #2 hole, a signal of what may become more prevalent in upcoming days. He singled in the first and ended up at third as the catcher's throw on an attempted steal got away. It was good to see him get his uniform dirty, scoring the first run on a Pujols sac fly. I wish he wouldn't slide head first, though… For reference, Encarnacion has over 400 career at-bats in the #2 hole, so it is not new to him.

Shaky second at second
Aaron Miles made an awful sidearm throw on a double play possibility in the second inning, a frame in which all three putouts were made at second base. Miles' throw sailed far wide of Pujols at first base, allowing a runner to move up.

David's glove, bat and legs
David Eckstein made a nice aggressive, charging play to retire pitcher Brad Penny in the top of the third and then dunked a double off the left field line in the bottom of the frame. He scored after an error and a Jim Edmonds single.

Wayne takes the bait
During the third inning, new WB11 broadcaster Wayne Hagin told a story about looks being deceiving, using the late Fred "Mr." Rogers as the example. Wayne repeated an oft-told, urban rumor that Rogers wore sweaters to cover his forearm tattoos from his days as a Navy SEAL. Wrong and wrong. Mr. Rogers urban legend.

Rolen on defense
Scott Rolen may not have his power stroke back yet, but his defense looks all the way back. To end the top of the fourth, Rolen made a fantastic spinning play, falling backward into foul territory while firing a perfect strike to Pujols at first in time to nail first baseman Olmedo Saenz.

Ponson bunts to set up big inning
In the fourth, Sidney Ponson put down a nice bunt to move Aaron Miles to second base. That extra work with George Kissell I saw the other day must be paying off. Eckstein's single was just deep enough to allow another headfirst slide, this one by Miles at home plate to score the third run. Encarnacion put a ball on the track in right to score another as the Dodgers outfield continues to struggle. The visitors have two errors charged so far and even more shaky plays. Pujols brought home run #5.

Scuffed and scuffling
When hitting, Edmonds asked the home plate umpire to look at the baseball as he thought it was scuffed. Pitcher Brad Penny took exception and a minor argument ensued.

Ledee wins battle; Ponson wins war
Ricky Ledee led off the fifth with a home run. It was only the second hit allowed by Ponson in his six innings of work.

WB11 graphics team in spring training, too
During the sixth, a graphic was shown on the air spelling the outfielder's last name as "Bigby".

Bench guys hit
Reserves John Gall and Deivi Cruz each singled to right in the bottom of the sixth. Both were dink shots.

Wainwright KKK
Saenz hit a chopper over first to single off Adam Wainwright starting the seventh. Willy Aybar then singled with one out. Adam collected outs #2 and #3 swinging on especially nice breaking balls and ended up fanning the side.

Benes final showing?
Like Wainwright, Alan Benes allowed a pair of hits but also added a wild pitch in the eighth. Though he escaped Saturday unscathed, I don't see how Benes survives the next cuts, which may occur as soon as Sunday.

Cruz not clutch
The Cards had some action in the eighth as Aaron Miles walked and John Rodriguez was hit by a pitch before Cruz ended the inning with a weak double play comebacker.

Looper closes
Braden Looper ended the game 1-2-3.

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

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