Redbirds Boston Byline: 06/20/08

The word from the St. Louis camp in Boston as the Cardinals prepared to take on the Red Sox in a three-game, weekend interleague series.

The Cardinals got into Boston Thursday night about 9 P.M., giving them plenty of time to rest. Being reminded that the accommodations and local travel are much better than they were in the 2004 World Series caused the normally stoic manager Tony La Russa to crack a wry grin.

As he does each year in road interleague play, La Russa is going with an extra pitcher and a short bench. The logic is that the pitchers do not need to be pinch hit for.

Yadier Molina was a late lineup change Friday, now serving as the DH after initially having been listed as the catcher. He was not cleared to play in the field after his daily ImPACT test. The Cardinals only have three healthy bench position players, Aaron Miles (who was in the original lineup), Brian Barton and Brendan Ryan.

Ryan, a huge Los Angeles Lakers (and Clippers) fan, was in mourning over the NBA champion Boston Celtics appearing before the Red Sox game Friday. Ryan slapped his head, saying "Darn, I have my Lakers jersey with me, but I left it in my hotel room!" Older and wiser veteran Troy Glaus replied, "Great way to start a riot!" As the rain began, the Celtics took a tour around the track, riding in three duck boats. An odd sight.

Assistant General Manager John Abbamondi is on the road trip. Before the game, he had no update on the signing status of first-round draft pick, third baseman Brett Wallace of Arizona State, having not spoken to GM John Mozeliak back in St. Louis yet this day.

Mike Parisi is back in a St. Louis uniform, though I hadn't missed him, having not been in the clubhouse since just before he was sent down to Memphis. Parisi's astute comment: "You need to be here more often!"

Fresh from Memphis, Parisi reported that his Redbirds teammate David Freese left the game during the first of a doubleheader on Wednesday due to a bug of some kind. The third baseman became visibly dizzy while fielding and was immediately taken out of the game for medical tests. Apparently, he is ok.

Mitchell Boggs was quietly enthused about his opportunity to pitch in the majors, though he wished it wasn't due to injuries to others. He is the Saturday starter. Pitching coach Dave Duncan called Boggs "a developing pitcher," saying "he still has things he needs to do."

Duncan told me that he was "initially concerned" by Mark Mulder's Thursday outing for Memphis. But once he looked at the play-by-play, he felt better. Mulder is least comfortable with his split finger pitch and Duncan attributed the early walks to that. Then the hits that followed were grounders. Duncan apparently thinks the St. Louis defense could handle what the Memphis fielders could not. However, Duncan has not yet spoken with the lefty to get his view of the outing.

Duncan admitted he and La Russa discussed having Mulder start yesterday (Thursday) instead of Brad Thompson, who was starting for Anthony Reyes, who was starting for Todd Wellemeyer. Duncan said that Mulder told him he is not yet ready, which his six runs allowed in Memphis would seem to reinforce. Duncan said there is a "possibility" Mulder could pitch in the next series in Detroit, agreeing it is "conceivable", while also saying another pitcher would not be added "unless we definitely need somebody".

Braden Looper will start game one in Detroit on Tuesday. Game two on Wednesday seems to be the next question mark. It could be Wellemeyer if he is ready. La Russa also noted they could bring back Friday starter Kyle Lohse on regular rest due to Monday's day off.

Back in Memphis, Thompson will be used "however they need him". He was partially chosen for the Thursday start as the Memphis coaches didn't want to mess up their top four starters (for the emergency start).

When asked if rehabbing Matt Clement might figure into the Cardinals starting equation, the always succinct Duncan simply said, "not right now".

He answered a question with a question when asked about his bullpen. "Are there a lot of clubs doing better than we are?", replied Duncan, perhaps a bit defensively. For the record, 11 of the 16 NL clubs are better, if you use ERA as a measure. The Cardinals' bullpen ERA of 4.31 is half a run per game worse than the NL average of 3.82. Only Milwaukee, San Diego, Washington and Pittsburgh have higher pen ERAs in 2008.

Duncan did acknowledge they didn't want to use Chris Perez for as many pitches as was required on Thursday (33) against the Royals.

Rehabbing Chris Carpenter is scheduled to throw a 40-pitch simulated game on Monday in Jupiter, Florida. No word on who will be relieving him. ;-)

Perhaps it could be the almost-forgotten Josh Kinney. Slow to recover from his elbow woes, Kinney has progressed to throwing bullpens. No estimated time for a rehab assigment, let alone return to St. Louis yet.

Despite taking batting practice and infield in St. Louis on Thursday, Albert Pujols is not on the road trip. The most optimistic return would be following the Detroit series. Ace Adam Wainwright is also back home, with no new news on his recovery from a sprained right middle finger.

I asked bullpen coach Jeff Murphy if the Fenway pens, tucked between the right field wall and the bleachers, were any worse than other cities. Murph said, "no", citing Chicago and San Francisco as two locales where the fans are especially interactive.



Brian Walton can be reached via email at brwalton@earthlink.net.

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