On Friday, the St. Louis Cardinals shouldered their final spring cuts – except for another shoulder – that of injured outfielder John Rodriguez. Rodriguez, who reinjured his left shoulder during Friday's contest, seemed set to make the team. However, the severity of his injury will not be known until Saturday. At that point, if Rodriguez is not ready to go, he will be placed on the disabled list and utilityman Hector Luna should make the squad. Otherwise, Luna would be optioned to Triple-A Memphis. Remember that Luna made 24 undistinguished major league appearances in the outfield in 2005, increasing his versatility during a time the outfield is short-handed.
Miles to start over Spivey
In other moves, Junior Spivey seems to have lost his starting role at second base to Aaron Miles. Considerably poorer defensive play and a .152 versus .353 spring batting average made the decision to put Spivey on the pines an easy one. The Post-Dispatch mentioned that the Cardinals had at least considered waiving the highly-disappointing Spivey, but ultimately decided against it. Spivey will still get a chance to play, but will have to work out of his month-long funk as a reserve. The switch-hitting Miles offers Manager Tony La Russa a second player in the projected line-up who can hit from the left side. (Jim Edmonds is the other.)
Spiezio onto 40-man
Infielder Scott Spiezio was able to bank enough goodwill with a strong spring start with the bat, as well as ability to play multiple infield positions plus the advantage of being a switch-hitter into a reserve spot. This occurred despite Spiezio's average dropping to .200 through Friday. He will be added to the Cardinals' 40-man roster before opening day.
Schumaker makes club
With solid defense and a decent bat (.274 and six RBI), outfielder Skip Schumaker also made the team. While he could be considered a left-handed hitting version of So Taguchi, with all the outfield injuries, Schumaker offers a dependable late-inning replacement, much as So Taguchi was used in the past when the team had a full compliment of regulars. Once Larry Bigbie is recovered from his heel injury, Schumaker is likely destined to return to Triple-A. But, for now, he is a major leaguer and will serve as the second left-handed option off the bench, along with the switch-hitting Spiezio.
Hancock earns last pen spot
Josh Hancock won the final bullpen spot in what was described to be close call over Memphis' 2005 closer Brian Falkenborg. The latter had allowed six runs in ten innings for a 5.06 ERA, while only two runs scored on Hancock's watch this spring, also in ten innings. I was surprised this competition was viewed to be that close by the Cardinals. Tony La Russa told the Post-Dispatch that Hancock won out due to slightly better control. Like Spiezio, Hancock will have to be added to the 40-man roster, which prior to those moves sat at 36. So, there is plenty of room.
Without recapping his horrendous ninth inning against a group of mostly Mets reserves on Friday, let me just say that Alan Benes came out a distant third in the scrum for the final bullpen position. Benes is greatly admired by many Cardinals fans for his past contributions, and is to be congratulated for making it to the final cut. However, his lack of command (seven walks in ten innings), made him a poor choice. Benes and Falkenborg are expected to join Memphis.
With all 30 major league teams making their own final cuts this weekend, there is always the possibility of the Cardinals making a trade or claiming outfield or second base depth from other teams' discards. As noted above, the Cardinals will have two spots on their 40-man roster even after Spiezio and Hancock are added. Both Schumaker and Luna have options, so could be sent down without risk of losing them if anyone better comes along.
|Hector Luna (?)||John Rodriguez (DL?)|
|Josh Hancock||Brian Falkenborg|
Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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