Spring Training Notebook – Thursday, March 30

A toxic mix of errors, poor pitching and scarce hitting meant a 6-1 Cardinals loss to the New York Mets on Thursday and Stan the Man moves to his new home.

Stan to re-appear Friday

The famous statue of Stan Musial will be a centerpiece of the new Busch Stadium, located at the bridge entrance at Gate 3, on the west side of the ballpark. Friday at 1 PM, at Spruce and Eighth Streets, the statue will be put into place. It will occur in a hard-hat area not open to the public, but will be covered by the media.

1,300 exhibition tixs gone fast
According to the Cardinals Vice President of Ticket Sales, Joe Strohm, the 1,300 additional tickets for the April 4 Springfield-Memphis exhibition game sold out Thursday afternoon in less than 10 minutes.


If you wanted to read good news today, stop right here. But, don't worry. There are two more Spring Training games to prepare for the regular season…


On to the game…


Sidney sloppy

By the second inning, starting pitcher Sidney Ponson was clearly struggling. How else could you explain the first walk taken this entire spring by free-swinging shortstop Jose Reyes to load the bases?  On a blooper to right, Juan Encarnacion's throw home was on line, but it got under Yadier Molina. Ponson was not backing up his catcher as another run scored. It is hard not to seriously question his work ethic.


Offense stymied

Despite a Cardinals line-up on the road that included all projected regular season starters except for Jim Edmonds, journeymen Darren Oliver and Jose Lima held the offense to a single run on the board through four innings. It got worse from there with three relievers allowing a single hit over the final five innings.


Spivey made a good play

Yes, folks, it can happen. Junior Spivey saved a run in the third on an infield single that loaded the bases, following a David Eckstein throwing error and a walk to the #7 hitter.


Ponson ends a rough day

In the bottom of the fourth, the Mets loaded the bases again. It was so bad that Dave Duncan made a mound visit - in Spring Training! Ponson did struggle through completion of the inning. His line was ugly: seven hits and four walks on 83 pitches in four innings.


Halley's Comet spotted

Only 14 runners were successful stealing against Molina last season, but Xavier Nady swiped second base in the fifth.


Braden bad

Braden Looper allowed consecutive hits in fifth against the bottom of the order and then unbelievably walked Reyes again! A sac fly and base hit each scored one. Another walk reloaded the bases and that ended Looper's day. Brian Falkenborg got to inherit the mess and escaped the jam. Is it time to become officially concerned about Looper? Eight earned runs in 8-2/3 spring innings.


Typical inning of the day

Scott Rolen fanned to start the sixth, but reached as the pitch evaded Mets catcher Paul LoDuca. However, Rolen was quickly erased in a rundown. John Rodriguez showed good patience in drawing a two-out walk, but one pitch later, So Taguchi weakly ground out to first. In the bottom of the inning, Xavier Nady was given a single on a ball that Spivey tried to make a back-handed "ole" play on. More ugliness.


Same position, different player, same outcome

With Brad Thompson in for the bottom of the seventh, so was Hector Luna. He promptly made an error on a routine play at second base.


Juan did ok

Encarnacion was two-for-three on the day with a stolen base. No other Cardinal batter had more than a single hit.


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


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