Birds' Buzz – April 5

What's happening in the Cardinals clubhouse after the day off on Tuesday.

As always, the Cardinals were business-like in getting ready for Wednesday's game against the Phillies. No loud music and even the televisions were very quiet, but that is the way it always is. A few players half-heartedly played cards, while most went through their personal pre-game readiness routine. Lots of extra clothing layers were being applied, including by the manager himself.


3:45pm Mark Mulder was resting at his locker reading a magazine as most every day he is pitching. He is as emotionless off the field as he is on. Especially on his day on the mound, everyone keeps their distance. I imagine Mulder likes it that way.


3:55pm I had my first real up-close view of Josh Hancock. All I can say is that he looks fine to me. I am glad I am not employed by the Reds. In Hancock's case, their loss will be the Cardinals' gain.


4:05pm Bench coach Joe Pettini steps into Tony La Russa's office to go over the day's schedule.

          5:15pm Stretching - pitchers        

5:30pm Stretching – position players

          5:45pm Batting practice:    

                    5:45pm Bennett, Luna, Molina, Spiezio

                    5:57pm Eckstein, Edmonds, Miles

                    6:08pm Encarnacion, Pujols, Rolen

                    6:19pm Rodriguez, Schumaker, Taguchi


4:15pm David Eckstein stopped to check out the line-ups, written on a card and posted on the bulletin board. One of the other scribes made a joke about him playing every day, which Eckstein didn't understand the first time. But, I noticed that he was actually studying the Phillies line-up. It was likely that Eckstein was thinking ahead to his defensive positioning during the game. In a good piece of news, I saw no evidence of any carry over from his knee-first slide into the concrete base of the stands on Opening Day.


4:25pm Sidney Ponson, returned from pitching in St. Louis Tuesday, was jovial. He challenged the press to wear coats and ties for opening day of the new Busch. Ponson said he was surprised by the volume of media who wanted to talk with him after the game. Guess he expected St. Louis to be a bit of a media backwater compared to Baltimore. As yet another Barry Bonds feature on ESPN blared on in the background, ignored by all, Ponson volunteered what a great person and teammate Albert Belle was, using the example of him playing chess each day with two sportswriters. I hope they let Albert win. I asked Ponson about his outing Tuesday. He said simply, "I went six innings. Of 18 outs, 14 were ground balls."


4:35pm As he was unpacking blue batting helmets out of travel bags, I asked Equipment Manager Rip Rowan about the new-age versions used by the Mets and Phillies. Rowan was aware of the new Rawlings models, but said his players didn't want to use them. Can't blame them.


4:45pm Jason Marquis told me that he went home to Staten Island for the day Tuesday and like me, was surprised to hit snow on the Garden State Parkway coming south on Wednesday afternoon. He is sporting a new buzz cut.


4:55pm Radio man John Rooney was wearing a classy black all-weather jacket, but said he had to go out and buy some cold-weather pullovers, as he didn't get his packing right between Florida and Philadelphia. Rooney is looking forward to the favorable early-season home schedule to get farther along in his moving-in process at home.


5:05pm I asked Rooney's partner Mike Shannon about playing in cold weather. He said, "Guys who can concentrate on the game will do it and be just fine but those who can't will find some reason not to." Well-put, sir.


Brian Walton can be reached via email at


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