The Redbird Report 03/11

After the first 10 days of exhibition games, the Cardinals still had four regulars sidelined. Among the four, center fielder Jim Edmonds is taking it slowly in spring training after offseason surgeries on his left foot and right shoulder.

Shortstop David Eckstein had to come out of the first exhibition game with an oblique muscle strain. Second baseman Adam Kennedy had yet to play after suffering a ribcage strain. Center fielder Jim Edmonds was taking it slowly after offseason surgeries on his left foot and right shoulder, and right fielder Juan Encarnacion was healing from surgery on his left wrist.

Kennedy was expected to return on March 10, and Eckstein and Encarnacion hoped to be back sometime in the week of March 12. Edmonds likely won't be ready until the last week of the exhibition schedule.

With so many regulars out, the doors were flung open for many reserves to get more playing time, and outfielder Skip Schumaker took full advantage. Schumaker had nine hits in his first 19 at-bats, including a two-homer game against the Dodgers, and thrust himself squarely into the outfield mix.

"If you hit, they find a place for you," the left-handed-hitting Schumaker said. "There's never a spot just handed to me. I have to find some way to weasel my way in."

Schumaker credited his success to some offseason work in California with former Cardinals slugger Mark McGwire, who suggested that Schumaker adjust his hands on his swing.

While Schumaker was hot, right-handed-batting So Taguchi and Preston Wilson, both cast as extra outfielders, were not. Taguchi and Wilson were a combined 5-for-40 (.125).


--RHP Jason Isringhausen has begun throwing batting practice sessions, the next step in his recovery from left hip surgery. He expects to be ready for Opening Day. A healthy Isringhausen means the Cardinals confidently can keep RHP Adam Wainwright in the rotation. Wainwright pitched seven hitless innings over two starts.

--RHP Josh Kinney was diagnosed with a torn ligament in his right elbow, and he will require "Tommy John" surgery. Kinney, who will miss the entire season, was expected to be a key setup man for RHP Jason Isringhausen.

--Through seven exhibition games at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Fla., the Cardinals failed to hit a home run. By contrast, they had eight in three games away from Jupiter, including five in a game at Vero Beach, Fla., against the Dodgers.

--RHP Braden Looper, taking to his new role as a starter, allowed just one run over 7 1/3 innings in his first two outings.

--OF Chris Duncan seems more comfortable in left field this spring and has hit with power, including a 450-foot shot at Vero Beach, Fla.

--RHP Russ Springer remained out with an oblique injury. The free agent acquisition, who had been with Houston the last few years, didn't take the mound in the first two weeks of spring training.

--OF John Rodriguez has been making a bid for a roster spot with improved defensive play, and he also was hitting .500. Rodriguez seems to have back his power stroke after banging only two homers last year.

BY THE NUMBERS: 1918 -- The last time the Cardinals finished last in either the division or league.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We know we're not going to ever catch the top four of five clubs who are in enormous media markets." -- Chairman Bill DeWitt Jr., on the club's payroll, which is near $96 million.

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