The Springfield Cardinals Report - May 5

Beat Reporter John Brayfield brings you the latest news from the Cardinals Double-A affiliate, the Springfield Cardinals.

   What a difference a week makes--especially in Cardinal Country.  Last week the Springfield Cardinals were entrenched in first place by several games in front of the Tulsa Drillers and today they find themselves tied for first place in the Texas League North Division--sharing identical records of 16-11 with Tulsa.

    Nearly 6,000 die-hard Cardinal fans watched Thursday night in low
50's temperatures, for two hours and 37 minutes, as their team fell to a
team that has quickly become the 2006 season nemesis.

    With the day off Wednesday the Cards opened at home with the Corpus Christi Hooks, who so far own the
Springfield team this season taking three of four on the recent road trip and the first of three at Hammonds Field.

   On Sunday and Monday, the Cards beat the San Antonio Missions, but failed to sweep the Missions on Tuesday night losing 7-3.

   But, all is not gloom and doom in
Springfield.   In Thursday's outing, Reid Gorecki hit his Texas League-leading tenth home run, second baseman Jarrett Hoffpauir hit a three-RBI triple, Rico Washington hit an RBI triple, and every player, excluding pitchers, got on base at least once.  It was just one of those nights. Even the new radar gun didn't want to cooperate only displaying the speed for one out of every 20 pitches or so.

   On the positive side, and there is always a positive side in Cardinal Country, those players who were being counted on to come through this season are doing just that.  One of things that strikes a reporter or fan's eye as he watches this year's
Springfield team is the way they approach the game each night.   No matter that Reid Gorecki and Rico Washington are batting well over .300, and Cody Haerther is hitting just under .300--these guys come to the plate as if they were struggling to make the team.

   Haerther has been batting between .265 and .300 for most of the first month of the 2006 season--a respectable average in any park.  But, if the talk among the press corps means anything, we can expect that average to rise pretty quickly.   No matter that Reid Gorecki is leading the league in home runs,
Washington is the top RBI getter and Haerther is improving his batting average and fielding expertise every day.  No matter that they have held at least a share of first place for most of the season and are setting franchise records every night--they still walk up to bat as if they were riding the bottom of the roster in hits and home runs.


   And it's not a matter of low-self confidence or discouragement; it's a matter of not being satisfied with any numbers--no matter how high they may be.  Even though the three hits Haerther had on April 25 were monumental in securing the win over Tulsa and helping the Cards to a 7-3 record on the 10-game homestand, Cody still tries a little harder each time he faces an opposing pitcher.  It's like he is thinking to himself--"Okay, I only hit a home run last time--this time I'll do better."

   Owners, fans, coaches and parent clubs couldn't ask anymore from a team than what the Springfield Cardinals have already given them this season.  They are a first place team that plays like a last place team struggling to get out of the basement.  They play like a team that is never satisfied with just winning today's game--they want to win tomorrow and the next day also.

   This is a different team than
Springfield saw last year.  This is a team that wants to win it all.  It's a team with a vision - a vision of a championship pennant.

   As good as the stats look so far for the Springfield Cardinals, and as good a job as the guys who keep track of all that stuff are doing, there is one stat that consistently fails to make the stat sheets--the number of balls that can be counted lying on top of the training facility roof in right-center field. 


   As of Thursday night, I could count six baseballs, from my perch in the press box, scattered among the air conditioners and duct work. I pledge to keep everyone in Cardinal Country updated on this important statistic, because as my grandmother always said, "As goes the number of home run balls landing out of play on the roof--so goes the season."

  You can write John Brayfield at

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