St. Louis Cardinals Winter Warm Up - Day Two

Dustin Mattison wraps up Day Two of the St. Louis Cardinals Winter Warm Up, on tap; Rick Ankiel, Skip Schumaker, David Freese, Joe Thurston, Ryan Franklin and Kyle McClellan.

Day two of the St. Louis Cardinals Winter Warm Up got off to slow start but leave it to outfielder Rick Ankiel to get things going. The centerfielder wants to remain in the position this season. After a rest period after his sports hernia surgery, he is now is spring training shape. Consistency is the goal for him this season. Ankiel was noncommittal on possibly working out a deal to extend his stay in St. Louis after 2009. He liked vacationing in Costa Rica but did not enjoy his stay in Hawaii.

"Harvesting" a 10-point buck highlighted Ryan Franklin's off-season. He feels comfortable in the closer role because he "got some experience." Franklin thought it was tougher to see what Jason Isringhausen was going through than to have to do his friend's job. He is comfortable being the leader of the bullpen after the departures of Isringhausen and Russ Springer. On Chris Perez and Jason Motte: "the off-speed and location might not be there but the ability is." Wants them to understand that the late innings are 75% mental. "If there is any hesitation, you have to back off the rubber." Franklin will admittedly throw fewer knuckleballs.

One of the most compelling statements of the day came from swingman Brad Thompson. The right-hander said he "would feel like a vet if he knows he has a job every year." Thompson thinks a contract will be done soon. Of the Cardinal players that were at his wedding, only McClellan and Duncan were still with the team. Former Cardinal's pitcher Andy Cavazos was his best man and Anthony Reyes was in the wedding party.

Though he had a superb 2008, Skip Schumaker feels no differently going into this spring than any other. He understands that there is plenty of outfield competition coming up the ladder. If Duncan is healthy, he feels the Cardinals have four outfielders that can play everyday. His old high school coach is left-handed so he has been hitting off of him this off-season to hopefully improve against lefties. When asked about second base, he first asked, "What's the deal?" "Schu" has no doubt that, "Adam Kennedy can do the job." Laughingly, "There's a reason I'm in the outfield." He doesn't know how realistic it is that he would be able to handle the role. Like previous off-seasons, he has been hitting with Mark McGwire. Joining them this season is Mike Gallego who brought along with him Matt Holliday and Bobby Crosby. With all the trade talk this winter, he really felt him and Ryan Ludwick were going to be Rockies.

The excitement of hometown son David Freese was quite obvious. It was his first Winter Warm Up that he is hoping culminates with his Busch Stadium debut. Freese feels his "work ethic and mind set helped him with his jump" from the California League to Triple-A Memphis. He explains that it was exciting "watching his buddies (teammates) get the call" and it makes him realize how close to the majors he is.

He has mentioned to the front office that he is up for playing other positions but they want him to concentrate on third. Is used to being in a jog jam at third base but understands the drafting of a great hitter like Brett Wallace. Also, he feels Allen Craig is vastly underrated. He enjoyed being in every play as a catcher and would take his catcher's mitt to spring training if the team wanted. Looks at Joe Mather's path to the big leagues and hopes for a similar road. The left wrist that ended his winter ball play has been broken twice in the past but he says it feels healthy and he is ready for spring training.

Joe Thurston's Winter League ball manager, former Cardinal Eduardo Perez that introduced him to Jose Oquendo. After attending the 2004 World Series in St. Louis, he knew this was the place that he would like to play. Thurston is willing to play wherever he needs to play. In replacing Aaron Miles, he is willing to pitch mop up duties if it earns him a spot on the team. Thurston is willing to do anything to win; lay down a bunt, steal a base, or steal a sign. He added that he learned the art of base stealing from Maury Wills. Left before the winter league season ended to get married.

Kyle McClellan is coming to camp prepared to start and compete for a job. He does not feel the bullpen is a step back and does not see the rotation as a promotion. His season did not end the way he wanted it to and is using this as motivation for his workouts this off-season. Kyle sees Brad Thompson and Chris Duncan everyday as they have worked out together this winter. After last season, he realizes he has to pace himself more. He came to spring training last season in opening day shape and feels that is why he wore down at the end of the season. Takes failure hard, says no one is harder on him than he is on himself. Feels it is "going to be hard without Russ (Springer), Izzy, and RV (Ron Villone). He talks to Springer at least once a week and Isringhausen often as well. What do they talk about? Hunting, of course. McClellan feels Izzy will play somewhere just doesn't know if it will be with the Cardinals.



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