Redbirds Boston Byline: 06/21/08

The word from the St. Louis camp in Boston on Saturday as the Cardinals took on the Red Sox in game two of the three-game, weekend interleague series.

Todd Wellemeyer was upbeat after throwing 40 pitches on Saturday morning at "close" to maximum effort. "My slider is back to normal. It is great, a good feeling," he beamed. He plans to throw again tomorrow (Sunday), a "light side" on Tuesday and should be ready to start game three in Detroit on Thursday. It looks like Braden Looper on Tuesday and Kyle Lohse on Wednesday.

Regarding other starters, Tony La Russa had this to say about Matt Clement's Friday outing with Memphis, during which he allowed six runs in three innings, "I don't think it was a plus outing."

On the other hand, there is optimism about Mark Mulder. "I think we will see him sooner than later," La Russa said. Pressed for a clarification, the manager noted there "may be a way to fit him in there," referring to a spot in the series in Kansas City next weekend, if the lefty is ready.

La Russa praised Ryan Franklin for a "gutty performance", going two innings for the Friday win, comparing the feat to Dennis Eckersley, his closer in Oakland (and later St. Louis, as well as a member of the Boston broadcast team). He quickly added Russ Springer to the mix, as the reliever escaped from a tough jam on Friday, too.

On the other hand, lefty Randy Flores is struggling. La Russa says it is his confidence and stuff, not a health issue. "He needs to get back to A, B, C… Dunc has an idea (what is wrong), and then usually good things happen."

Asked who his ninth-inning man will be on Saturday, La Russa hedged, naming Chris Perez, Kyle McClellan and Jason Isringhausen, as well as the two lefties, Flores and Ron Villone. The manager admitted that Izzy "is chomping at the bit to get in there."

Team physician Dr. George Paletta was supposedly already traveling to Boston. He was to examine shortstop Cesar Izturis' hamstring back at the team hotel Saturday morning. More news on that later today, hopefully.

La Russa admitted that had a move been required to DL Izturis, outfielder Nick Stavinoha was the likely candidate to be called up from Triple-A Memphis. The logic is that the righty hitter would be valuable with two lefty pitchers coming up. It would be his first trip to the majors and the ninth rookie debut for the Cardinals this season.

Of course, Colby Rasmus was the other name to come up. That question caused La Russa to look up from his lineup card. "Where is he going to play?" La Russa asked. He went through the names of his starting three outfielders one by one, noting their good play. TLR also noted "Stavinoha has done the best of all (Triple-A outfielders this season)".

I could sense no change in the manager's commitment to struggling Chris Duncan, who is taking "competitive at-bats", noted La Russa.

On the play in the photo above from Friday night, Brendan Ryan admitted he brushed Rick Ankiel with his spike as they almost collided, but Ankiel is fine. Both players are in Saturday's line-up.

On why Aaron Miles is starting in the field at second base over Adam Kennedy, who is at DH on Saturday, the answer was simple. "Miles needs playing time, as I see it," said the manager.

Albert Pujols is "feeling really good" and as a result, will be joining the team in Detroit to work out Tuesday and Wednesday, including early 2 P.M. batting practice. La Russa noted Thursday is the first day Pujols is eligible to be activated and hinted that was quite possible. He nodded and said "Good question," when I asked if the slugger might DH his first day or two back. "I don't know, we'll have to see," was the conclusion after he considered the cons out loud.

After hitting the ball hard every time up on Friday night, catcher Yadier Molina did worse on his ImPACT test on Saturday than he did on Friday. As a result, he is only available to pinch hit and play the field in an emergency. Bench coach Joe Pettini called Molina over and told him, "You'd better stay back in the hotel tonight and study for that test tomorrow." That got a laugh from Yadi.

Link to Friday's installment: "Redbirds Boston Byline: 06/20/08"

Brian Walton can be reached via email at

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