Cardinals Wednesday New York Minutes

Brian Walton's Wednesday report from New York's Shea Stadium as the St. Louis Cardinals take on the Mets in game three of the four-game midweek series.

Like Monday and Tuesday, I will be using this entry to capture news items from Wednesday's Cardinals-Mets game at Shea Stadium and will update it as warranted.

I asked La Russa about the considerations in starting Aaron Miles at shortstop, where he has less experience and Brendan Ryan at second, where he also has played less. It all comes down to experience – of the player. The manager feels more comfortable with the veteran Miles in the shortstop position.

It won't matter soon. David Eckstein took early batting practice and says he feels good. The last step is to get his legs strengthened to handle the rigors of daily play. Extra running has been part of the rehab. All indications are that the shortstop will be activated on Friday when he is eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list.

It is even better news for Yadier Molina. La Russa expects to have the catcher back in his line-up on Thursday for the final game of the Mets series. That would seem to be bad news for Kelly Stinnett, but we will see tomorrow.

Scott Rolen is recovered sufficiently from the bone contusion on the top of his left foot to return to the line-up. He missed two plus games.

However, another third baseman is now shelved. Scott Spiezio was receiving treatment for an infection in his left index finger. La Russa's answer as to whether or not Spiezio would be available Wednesday was "it depends on when he gets back". Later we learned that Spiezio has been hospitalized in New York and is receiving antibiotics via IV for an infection in his left index finger. His situation will be re-evaluated on Thursday.

Weekend starters will be Brad Thompson (Friday), Mike Maroth (Saturday) and either Braden Looper or Todd Wellemeyer (Sunday). Hopes are that Looper will be ready to come off the DL and start. La Russa viewed Thompson's winning outing Tuesday night as "perfect preparation" for Friday's start.

As expected, Kip Wells has been moved to the bullpen as the "innings guy". La Russa said he "decided to give him a break" from the rotation earlier, but Looper's injury made that "not possible". Then, the arrival of Maroth made it possible again. La Russa reiterated it is an ongoing competition to be among the "best five". The manager acknowledged relieving is a "different type of challenge" for Wells, but believes the pitcher is capable of being successful as a reliever. Yet, he acknowledges that Wells "has the stuff and mindset of a starter".

In Jupiter, Chris Carpenter pitched his simulated game at 3 P.M. Eastern on Wednesday. No report on how it went yet.

While neither Ryan Ludwick (.159/.159/.250 – AVG/OBP/SLG – in 44 at-bats) nor Chris Duncan (.216/.286/.353 in 51 ABs) are hitting lefties well, the skipper inserted the former into the line-up. His answer was that the sample size is too small to matter and that Ludwick is "dangerous. He goes up there to take a whack."

Jason Isringhausen and Russ Springer are not expected to pitch Wednesday. The current plan is to use Wells and Troy Percival to get to Ryan Franklin. The latter seems to be the back up closer. Definitely expect to see Percival on Wednesday as the manager wants him to have "x number of appearances to get his feet wet".

Mets manager Willie Randolph bowed out of being one of La Russa's All-Star Game coaches as he is having shoulder surgery over the break. La Russa was disappointed, saying he was "looking forward to being teammates again".

While batting practice was canceled by a heavy mid-afternoon rain, as of 6:00 P.M., the showers ended. But, the tarp remained on the field. Good thing as a light rain began again at 6:15 P.M.

To kill the time, the pitchers played cards in the clubhouse before throwing, while others watched the extra innings contest between Milwaukee and Houston on television. I caught Aaron Miles getting in some extra video time.

One day after his game-winning home run, Brendan Ryan was still on cloud nine. He admitted he was up until 4:00 A.M. between replying to messages (he is from the West Coast) and watching SportsCenter. Seeing himself on ESPN is when it finally sunk in, said the infielder. As if on cue, ESPN's ubiquitous Chris Berman was in the clubhouse prior to the game.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at

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