The Cardinals Spring Training Notebook 02/25

Finally, baseball is back, the St. Louis Cardinals send minor league righthander Blake Hawksworth to the mound to take on the Florida Marlins in game one of the 2009 Grapefruit League season.

Finally, the St. Louis Cardinals take the field in game one of the 2009 Grapefruit League season.

Cardinals' manager Tony La Russa announced yesterday who would be playing in this first game, but withheld his actual lineup in terms of the batting order.

My guess is Tony's lineup will look like this;

1. Skip Schumaker (2B) - a given based on Tony's plan for the 09 season
2. Chris Duncan (DH) – if healthy, he'll return to the lineup here when he plays
3. Albert Pujols (1B) – da, pencil him here until he retires
4. Ryan Ludwick (RF) – a Silver Slugger, who can protect Pujols
5. Rick Ankiel (CF) – he just fits here behind Ludwick
6. Joe Mather (3B) – potentially Mather could bat higher, not just now
7. Khalil Greene (SS) – coming off a bad season with the bat lands him here
8. Jason LaRue (C) – not batting ninth because Tony wants Rasmus batting ninth
9. Colby Rasmus (LF) – batting ninth because the pitchers will be batting eight

Today's starter will be 26-year-old RHP Blake Hawksworth, the Cardinals 2006 "Minor League Pitcher of the Year" who has been ranked as high as #2 in the Birdhouse's annual Top 40 Prospect Rankings in 2007, before a rash of injuries stalled his progress to the major leagues.

Last season Blake had to deal with a sprained MCL in June and finished the year making just 18 starts and two relief appearances posting a 5-7 record and a 6.09 ERA, between Triple-A Memphis and his rehab assignment in the Gulf Coast League.

NOTES AND QUOTES --- David Freese, according to a report in the St. Louis Post Dispatch, third baseman David Freese is easing back into infield drills carefully with his strained left Achilles' tendon. The Cardinals are keeping out of games and running for the next couple of days.

--- Brendan Ryan, is expected to miss the first couple of games this week due to a sore wrist, but could be back in the lineup by the end of the weekend.

--- On Tuesday, the Springfield (Illinois) Sliders of the Prospect League announced the signing of the former St. Louis –and Springfield-Cardinals right-hander Danny Cox as the Sliders pitching coach.

The signing of Cox reunites two former Cardinals who played together from 1985 to 1987. Sliders' first-year manager Jack Clark and Cox played on the '85 and '87 National League championship teams.

Cox managed the independent Gateway Grizzlies, a Frontier League team near Sauget, from 2003-2006, compiling a 197-175 record and capturing a league championship.

On a personal note, I've always been disappointed that Danny Cox isn't a part of the St. Louis Cardinals coaching staff at some level within the organization. After winning the league championship for the Gateway Grizzlies, I thought he might get a call from the Cardinals front office. Cox brings a wealth of knowledge, a winning attitude and Marine Corps, Bob Gibson type toughness to the game that we could use today.

Programming Notes

Thursday's Game – Cardinals @ Baltimore at 1:05 (ET), Game Day Audio, Birdhouse "Live" Game Day Thread

Friday's Game – Cardinals @ Mets at 1:05 PM (ET), will be carried by the MLBN, Game Day Audio, XM 177, SportsNet NY & Birdhouse "Live" Game Day Thread

Saturday's Game – Cardinals vs. Nationals at 1:05 PM (ET), will be broadcasted by the Big 550 KTRS, Game Day Audio & XM 176


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