The Sunday Buzz – May 14. 2006

Happenings in and around the Cardinals prior to Sunday's game, including a Sidney Ponson update.

Ponson throws
With no one present other than Mark Mulder to catch the ball and fire it back, pitcher Sidney Ponson threw catch with Cardinals head trainer Barry Weinberg from about 60 feet in the outfield at about 10am Sunday morning. As the handshake in the photo indicates, all seemed very satisfied with the results. However, even if he stays on track, Ponson will miss another ten days of action or so.

The next generation slugger
Young Albert Pujols, Jr. came running into the clubhouse and gave his Daddy a big hug, receiving a kiss in return. Passing by, Jim Edmonds patted the youngster on the rear.

Don't pitch to me
Pujols didn't seem to notice much that ESPN's Steve Phillips was on the clubhouse television repeating over and over how he would never pitch to Albert Pujols in any meaningful game situations. Of course, GMs never had to make those kinds of decisions, anyway…

Bennett boy gets big bat
Gary Bennett's two young sons, Garrison and Gavin, were also in the house before the game, wearing matching green and blue shirts. Pujols handed the younger, about four years old, one of his bats. Daddy had to remind the boy not to swing it in the clubhouse.

Mail forwarded to where?
Walking past the players mailboxes, it was odd to see them all loaded at various levels with mail with one exception. The box labeled "5" was totally empty. I guess Albert must have needed a bigger container to hold all of his.

West coast family reunion
Brad Thompson was excited that his parents will be coming in to meet the Cardinals in San Diego. They live in Las Vegas.

Location, location, location
When I stopped to talk with David Eckstein, it was most noticeable that his clubhouse stall is placed strategically between second basemen Aaron Miles and Hector Luna.

Jose and Hector
Referencing back to my conversation with Dave McKay the day before, I noted that Luna was the first player to join the coaches on the field for pre-game practice. He was standing next to Jose Oquendo. If and when Luna comes into his own, it is clear Oquendo should receive his fair share of credit.

Film at eleven
Players studying film in Chad Blair's new video palace before the game included Larry Bigbie and Sunday's starting pitcher, Chris Carpenter.

Coats in evidence
The sounds of vendors hawking "Hot Chocolate!" seemed louder and more prevalent than the ubiquitous "Bud, Bud Lite" sellers on this day, the third consecutive chilly and overcast setting. Gametime temperature was 51 degrees.

Tarp sighting
In fact, the D'backs didn't take batting practice. After the Cardinals completed their work at noon, the grounds crew rolled the tarp into the infield. However, with no rain, despite the dark skies, they rolled it back off again at 12:40 p.m. Unlike the old Busch tarp, which plugged the Post-Dispatch, this one is solid white – at least so far. In a park with a scoreboard that has more advertising on it than a NASCAR driver, the Cardinals ownership doesn't seem to have missed a sponsorship trick. So, I expect the new Rogaine tarp to make its first appearance any time now.

We do baseball news here, not weather reports
If La Russa is cold in the dugout Sunday, he can blame me. As he completed his weekly Sunday morning radio show, I caught him to get a quote for the breast cancer awareness story. Tony used the discussion to solicit a weather report from me. I may have given him a more rosy report than the current weather deserves.

Blow hard?
Jeff Suppan was even more gregarious than usual, sharing his view of the weather. "I don't care if it raining, a monsoon, or if it is freezing cold. I just hate pitching when it is windy." Guess he'll be wise to never sign with San Francisco then. Just at the edge of earshot, Mark Mulder mocked Suppan with a whining sound.

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

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