The Redbird Report 08/28

St. Louis Cardinals' shortstop David Eckstein, who has a bruised index finger on his right hand, said he would be able to play Tuesday after missing Sunday's game.

With 35 games remaining, the surging Cardinals have only 11 against teams with winning records. They have three each with Arizona and Philadelphia, and five with the Chicago Cubs.

They have three against Milwaukee, which is at .500 now and seven each against the bottom three teams in the National League Central Division -- Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Houston. Starting Tuesday night in Houston, the Cardinals will play 35 games in 34 days, with no day off the rest of the season. Manager Tony La Russa, unsure if any Cardinals team had finished a season playing that many days in succession, called it a "wonderful opportunity."

A win Tuesday in Houston would be a momentous one on two fronts. It would bring the Cardinals to the .500 level (64-64) for the first time since April 16. And it would tie La Russa with Red Schoendienst at 1,041 for most victories by a Cardinals manager.

La Russa had offered to step aside and be a bench coach for Schoendienst if the latter wished to return. La Russa said Schoendienst had declined, saying (according to La Russa) he didn't think La Russa would be a bench coach because "I throw bad (batting practice)."


--RHP Jason Isringhausen gained his 200th save as a Cardinal Sunday. The clubs has an $8 million option on his contract for 2008 and he has said he would like to stay another year. General manager Walt Jocketty said, "It's a matter of negotiation, and we don't talk publicly about this."

--RHP Russ Springer, a valuable setup man, has decided not to retire at age 38 and wants to come back to the Cardinals next season, too. Springer said St. Louis has been the best site for his family because of facilities for his autistic son.

--The Cardinals are skipping RHP Anthony Reyes' start in the Houston series, moving RHP Joel Piniero up a day to follow RHP Braden Looper and RHP Kip Wells.

--LHP Mike Maroth, who has been out with elbow tendinitis, has begun a rehabilitation assignment at Class AAA Memphis.

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