The Redbird Report 04/03

Chris Duncan, who hit five homers in spring training and 22 last season but didn't play in the season opener against the New York Mets, will be in left field Tuesday night when the Cardinals play the Mets in the second game of the season.

Duncan batted only .170 against left-handed pitchers last season and the Mets started left-hander Tom Glavine. Right-handed batters Preston Wilson and So Taguchi started in the outfield against Glavine and each had a single, but Wilson fanned twice and Taguchi made two fielding mistakes.

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said his choice on Sunday does not mean Duncan is a platoon player.

"I said he would be an everyday player," La Russa said. "And that means he's going to play the good majority of the games."

Utilityman Scott Spiezio also might make his first start Tuesday night. Spiezio could turn up in right field with Orlando Hernandez pitching for the Mets.


--Sunday night wasn't the first time the Cardinals had stumbled in a season-opening game the year after they had won the World Series. The Cardinals have won 10 World Series, but are only 2-7-1 in first-day games the next year.

--RHP Chris Carpenter had won his first two Opening Day starts for the Cardinals before being roughed up for six runs in six innings Sunday.

--RHPs Kip Wells and Braden Looper will make their first Cardinals starts Tuesday and Wednesday. Wells has spent most of his career with Pittsburgh. Looper has never started in 572 previous big-league appearances.

--GM Walt Jocketty said the club likely would wait until the season was over to explore a contract extension for SS David Eckstein. "We're still interested in having him back after this year," said Jocketty. "We're just not at a point right now where we're able to do that."

--RF Juan Encarnacion, who hasn't played all spring because of lingering discomfort in his surgically repaired left wrist, isn't expected to play until at least May. "He's got to get ready and he's got to go play in (minor league) games," said manager Tony La Russa.

BY THE NUMBERS: 2 -- Number of home runs allowed by Cardinals starting pitchers in Grapefruit League games.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "To have somebody like that is like having money in the bank." -- Manager Tony La Russa on utility infielder Aaron Miles, who played well in the field this spring.

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