Duncan Optioned Out
Infielder/outfielder Chris Duncan has been optioned to Triple-A Memphis. Duncan was the surprise of early camp, swinging a hot bat while playing first base as Albert Pujols was away at the World Baseball Classic. The 24-year-old has four home runs, twice as many as anyone else on the team, and his 11 RBI is tied for tops on the club this spring.
However, Duncan's future is as a corner outfielder and he is likely being sent to Memphis to work on his defense. In addition, Duncan leads the team with 20 strikeouts against 21 hits. So, there is some finishing work required at the plate, also. Duncan is expected back in St. Louis at some point during the season.
Duncan has shown that while he has progressed, he is not ready for a major-league role. Skip Schumaker seems to have made the club as a left-handed outfielder. Schumaker, hitting .291 this spring has additional versatility as he can play centerfield. This is important, since regular back up So Taguchi will be the temporary starter in left while Larry Bigbie is out. When Bigbie is ready to return, Schumaker would be the likely one to be sent down.
Gall Optioned Out Again
Outfielder John Gall came into spring camp with a decent shot at winning a spot on the Cardinals 25-man roster, but has again fallen short. While his defense has improved somewhat, Gall's bat was quiet this spring, as his .207 average attests.
Gall, who turns 27 this coming weekend, will have to celebrate his birthday with the Memphis club, as he was optioned to Triple-A on Wednesday. 2006 will make the fourth season for Gall with the Redbirds. His major league future remains cloudy.
John Rodriguez seems to have made the club as the power threat off the bench. After a slow start, he raised his spring average to .250.
As expected, infielder Deivi Cruz became expendable to the St. Louis Cardinals as he lost out in his bid to make the club as a reserve. The 33-year-old looked slow in the field and lost at the plate, hitting just .146 in 41-at bats.
The nine-year veteran can be expected to catch on with another club if he is willing to accept a minor league assignment.
Aaron Miles seems to have made the club, as his switch-hitting .345 bat would be a plus at this point. Fellow switch-hitter Scott Spiezio, who started off strong, has tailed off badly at the plate and seems to have slipped from a lock to being in competition with Hector Luna for the final reserve spot. Spiezio is hitting .207 and Luna .185.
Wainwright makes club
As had been signaled, right-hander Adam Wainwright appears to have made the club as a reliever after falling short in his bid to win the fifth starter's role this spring. Wainwright has allowed just one earned run in his first 14-2/3 spring innings, while fanning ten. His long-term future remains as a member of the rotation.
Alan Benes, Brian Falkenborg and Josh Hancock are now in competition for the seventh and final relief spot. I continue to believe that Hancock will make the club, with the other two heading back to Memphis.
However, Hancock hurt his chances a bit by allowing two earned runs on Wednesday, as Benes also was charged with a run. However, they were the first runs allowed by either all spring. On the other hand, Falkenborg has allowed six runs in 9-2/3 innings and would seem to be last in the race.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com.
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