The Redbird Report 03/18

A tattered Cardinals rotation got a lift when veteran Kyle Lohse, who worked a combined 191 2/3 innings for Cincinnati and Philadelphia last year, signed a one-year contract with St. Louis.

Right-handers Matt Clement and Chris Carpenter and lefty Mark Mulder already weren't going to be ready for the start of the season as they continue to recover from surgeries. And now right-hander Joel Pineiro, who suffered shoulder inflammation after just one spring start, also is likely to open the season on the disabled list.

"You'd be jeopardizing (Pineiro) to be putting him in that situation" of pitching in the first week of the season, pitching coach Dave Duncan said. "If it takes time, it takes time."

With right-hander Braden Looper struggling early in the spring, Lohse, who has been throwing to Cal State Fullerton hitters, might be the No. 2 starter behind right-hander Adam Wainwright.

General manager John Mozeliak, who had hesitated to sign another free agent pitcher because of flexibility issues that would arise when the injured hurlers return, said, "If this was a perfect world, we wouldn't have had to go down this road. But it's not, and we're going to need a guy to pitch every fifth day."

Duncan, after watching Lohse's first workout, said, "I was impressed with his control of all his pitches.

"There's a need. I think we picked him up under the right circumstances."

Lohse got under way with the Cardinals on Monday, firing 70 pitches in a simulated game. "I just felt like I normally would at this time of the year," he said.


--RHP Jason Isringhausen hopes to return to action Wednesday after missing a schedule appearance Sunday due to a sore back. He said his back was improved Monday.

--RHP Anthony Reyes, battling RHP Brad Thompson for the fifth starter's job, enjoyed an effective outing Monday against Atlanta. Reyes tossed four shutout innings, lowering his spring ERA to 4.85.

--CF Colby Rasmus, a top prospect who was bidding for a big-league job this spring, was reassigned to the Cardinals' minor league camp Monday. Rasmus hit .273 (9-for-33) this spring with two homers and four RBIs.

--OF Juan Gonzalez, sidelined since March 12 with an abdominal strain, participated in minor league games Sunday and Monday. He has fallen behind Rule 5 pick Brian Barton in the battle to be the Cardinals' fifth outfielder.

--C Mark Johnson, a non-roster spring invitee, was reassigned to the Cardinals' minor league camp. He went 0-for-6 in 11 spring at-bats.

--An MRI done on RHP Joel Pineiro revealed a right shoulder strain. Pineiro has appeared in just one game this spring and manager Tony La Russa said, "This is not a choice thing for Pineiro. So you just have to do the best you can do scramble and fill spots."

--Feeling no discomfort from the much ballyhooed torn ligament in his right elbow, 1B Albert Pujols cracked his fourth homer of the spring on March 12. Pujols was slugging .926 at that point.

"I want to play the next 10, 15 years (without) surgery," said Pujols. "I'm paid to play. If I can walk, I can run and I'm going to go out there and play."

--LHP Tyler Johnson, who has shoulder issues, may not even pick up a ball in advance of Opening Day.

--Club president Mark Lamping resigned after more than 13 years on the job to take over as chief executive officer of the New Meadowlands Stadium Corporation. Lamping was succeeded by Bill DeWitt III, the son of the club's chief executive who was serving as vice president of business development.

--2B Adam Kennedy, after a rocky start, hit safely in five straight games and raised his spring average to .334.

BY THE NUMBERS: 4 -- Of the Cardinals' first eight exhibition victories, four came in their first four games with the New York Mets.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I know under the circumstances I'll probably be under a little bit more of a spotlight." -- Newly signed RHP Kyle Lohse, who came to terms with just two weeks left in spring training.

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