The Springfield Cardinals Report - July 20

stlcardinals.scout.com's beat reporter John Brayfield brings you the latest news from the St. Louis Cardinals' Double-A Texas League affiliate, the Springfield Cardinals. This report catches us up on several hot-playing players and some upcoming promotions at Hammons Field.

On Wednesday, the Springfield Cardinals had a good shot at pulling into a tie with the Tulsa Drillers for first place in the Texas League North Division. After all, they had just pounded Wichita 16-1 on Tuesday night and had sent the Wranglers to the clubhouse with their third-place tails between their legs. But, as luck would have it, the tails came back out on Wednesday afternoon and Wichita tail-whipped the Cards 11-1.

Cody Haerther did hit his ninth home run of the season Wednesday night, as they now find themselves a game and a half behind first place Tulsa, with a second half record of 12-14. Actually, second place looks pretty good from the press box window today, considering how grim things looked during the road trip that saw the Cardinals win only one game on the seven-day swing through Texas. They made up for that by sweeping Tulsa later in the month and came out okay on the recent homestand winning four out of seven games.

All-in-all, I would say they are doing great. The pitching has been outstanding--especially Mike Parisi, who came very close to a shutout Tuesday (16-1) as he got his fifth win of the season, and Mark Worrell, who leads the Texas League with 22 saves. Newly-arrived right-handed hurler Blake Hawksworth is biting at the bit to stake his claim in the rush for post-season play and Eric Haberer is sure that everyone is going to know how to pronounce his name before the end of he season (Hay-burr-er).

Cody Haerther, Shaun Boyd and Jarrett Hoffpauir have come alive with their bats giving Springfield multi-home run games in two out of their last four.

Outfielder Larry Bigbie has been assigned to Springfield for rehab, and though he has played in only one game and is batting .000, there are high hopes for him helping the team.

But, who impresses me the most? That's easy; it's Amaury Marti, the 32 year-old Cuban who is playing in his first year of professional baseball. I can't remember the last time I saw a guy who looked as good in the uniform and seemed so at home on the base paths. He reminds me of a Latin version of Lou Brock. So far, he has appeared in six games in Springfield, with 16 at bats, he has five hits, scored two runs, one RBI and one walk.

What impresses me most about this new player is his defense in the outfield. He is one of those players who seem to have balls hit right to him each time. I know better. I would be running left, then right, then back, then forward, and back again, and left again, and--well you get the idea. He just stands there waiting to catch the ball (the same one I would have circled the field for--and missed) and snatches it out of the air like magic. From a spectator's point of view, he is what I buy a ticket for. Win or lose--Marti puts on a show that is first-class baseball every game he is in. And, isn't that what the Cardinals always give their fans--in all leagues?

Speaking of what the Cardinals give their fans, Springfield has some great promotions coming up. First of all, and you heard it here first, former St. Louis Cardinal catcher Tom Pagnozzi is tentatively scheduled to be in Springfield on July 28, at Does Eat Place Steakhouse, to meet with fans. According to Does Eat Place general manager Dennis Fowler, Pagnozzi will be there (tentatively) from 4:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m., just prior to a 7:10 p.m. Springfield Cardinals game with Tulsa, to take pictures with fans and sign autographs.

"Right now, his people are working out the details about his involvement at the stadium (Hammons Field), but I imagine he will throw out the first pitch and whatever else they decide upon," said Fowler. "Perhaps I could toss out the first pitch to Pags. Who knows? I'd be shaking like a leaf in that situation--but it has been mentioned."

Does Eat Place is located at 1232 E. Trafficway in Springfield, just one block east of Hammons Field. For more information about the Pagnozzi visit, call (417) 869-DOES (3637).

July 21st will be this year's Season Ticket Holder Appreciation Night, with the St. Louis Cardinals at LA Dodgers showing on the big screen while season ticket holding fans enjoy a night of special promotions planned by the Springfield Cardinals and Hammons Field (time to be announced).

On Sunday, July 23rd, the Cards return to town to play the Arkansas Travelers and will be giving away Chris Lambert bobblehead dolls to the first 2500 fans, thanks to Hardee's.

July 27 will be Chevy Dealers of the Ozarks Baseball Card Team Set Night with card sets going to the first 3,000 fans.

July 27th is Empire Bank 50th Anniversary Green Cardinal's Cap Night, and me and 2,499 fans will go home with a one-of-a-kind cap.

On July 30 (and this is my favorite) the Springfield Cardinals and Three Dog Bakery will present Bark at the Park night. Fans can bring their dogs to the game and the first 3,000 fans will get an 8x10 full color, autographed photo of Mascot Louie's dog, Fetch. And, the best part, the first 500 dogs will get a treat from Three Dog Bakery.

And, the next night, July 31, the first 1,500 fans in attendance will receive a Red Cardinals Radio, compliments of AT&T.

So, though the Springfield Cardinals wouldn't really have to give me free gifts to get me to go to a game, I will thoroughly enjoy wearing my green Cardinals cap while my bloodhound, Roxy slobbers over her picture of Fetch and I admire my Chris Lambert bobblehead doll as I look at my new baseball cards and listen to my new Cardinals radio and reminisce about having my picture taken with Tom Pagnozzi while I enjoyed my dinner at the best steakhouse in southwest Missouri. I can't imagine life being any better than this. GO CARDS!!!

You can write John Brayfield at johnb@positech.net.


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