2008 Cardinals Caravan Report: Cape Girardeau

Dustin Mattison's report from the Cape Girardeau stop of the St. Louis Cardinals Caravan includes audio comments from players Brad Thompson, Anthony Reyes, Chris Perez and Bryan Anderson along with broadcaster Al Hrabosky.

Though the turnout was one-fifth of last year's celebration of the 2006 World Championship, this year's Cape Girardeau St. Louis Cardinals Caravan proved to be just as enthusiastic. Those fans in attendance on Monday, January 21 were very glad to cheer on the present, former, and future Cardinals as well as voice their displeasure over the recent trades of Scott Rolen and Jim Edmonds. Representing the Cardinals were former Cardinals Alan Benes and Al Hrabosky, current Cardinals Anthony Reyes and Brad Thompson as well as farmhands Chris Perez and Bryan Anderson.

Chris Perez was the Cardinals supplemental first round selection of the 2006 draft. Starting the year at Springfield, Perez blew his first save of the season and then converted his next 27 opportunities. The former Miami Hurricane was then promoted to Memphis where he was not nearly as dominant but was still able to notch eight saves. This winter, Perez represented Team USA in the Baseball World Cup. Having been dubbed the "Closer of the Future", Perez begins by discussing his goals for Spring Training.

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In 2006, in his seventh career outing, Anthony Reyes went out and allowed the defending World Champion Chicago White Sox only one hit in an eight-inning complete game. Unfortunately, the only hit was a solo home run and the Sox won the game, 1 to 0. With his staff spent after a hard-fought National League Championship Series, manager Tony La Russa called on Reyes for the first game of the World Series. The right-hander was better than anyone could have expected, allowing the Detroit Tigers only two runs in eight innings of work.

After such highlights during 2006, expectations were high for Anthony Reyes coming into the 2007 season. Unfortunately, Reyes experienced a season he would just soon forget. Reyes struggled, finishing with a record of 2-14 with an ERA over six. Much was made in the media about a supposed feud brewing between Reyes and La Russa and Cardinals' pitching coach Dave Duncan. The disagreement stemmed from Reyes not aggressively adopting the two-seam fastball; Reyes preferred to throw his four-seam fastball. The former USC Trojan reports he will come to camp throwing his four-seamer and dismisses any bad feelings between himself and the Cardinals' coaching staff.

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It is a difficult task to find a 20-year-old catcher that hits close to .300 in the always-tough Texas League but that is what the Cardinals have in Bryan Anderson. Anderson had a year to remember highlighted by a Texas League All-Star Game selection, a trip to the MLB Futures Game, and topped off by representing Team USA during the World Cup. While in Taiwan, Anderson penned a blog that appeared on the USA Baseball website. On the day that Anderson appeared in Cape Girardeau, the Cardinals announced that the organization had signed catcher Yadier Molina to a four-year extension. Anderson had the following to say about Molina's contract and how it affects his day-to-day preparation.

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During the 2007 season, Brad Thompson moved between the bullpen and the starting rotation as well as bouncing between the big leagues and the minors. The soon-to-be 26-year-old appeared in 44 games including 17 starts finishing with a record of 8-6 with a 4.73 ERA. Selected in the 16th round of the 2002 draft, Thompson reports on his efforts to prepare for the season.

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The Mad Hungarian, Al Hrabosky, performs the role as color commentator on Fox Sports Midwest broadcasts of Cardinals baseball. A colorful reliever during his days playing for the Cardinals and Kansas City Royals, Hrabosky provides his views about the moves the Cardinals have made this off-season.

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Dustin Mattison can be reached via email at dustin@whiteyball.com.

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