The Cardinals Major League Notebook

The Cardinals have decided to give outfielder Skip Schumaker a full-bore crack at winning the job at second base, where he is spending all his defensive time in Florida.

Schumaker, working daily with coaches Jose Oquendo and Joe Pettini, is gradually becoming more comfortable with his new spot, although he knows he is not yet playing instinctively. "I'm still thinking," Schumaker said. "There's just a lot more going on in the infield than the outfield. In the outfield, you just worry about who the cutoff man is, pretty much. Here, you're looking at all the signs (manager) Tony (La Russa) gives and Jose and Joe give.

"So I've got a lot going on, and I know that coming in. I knew it was going to take a lot of work, but I'm ready for it."

Schumaker made his first two starts without incident in the field and also had three hits in those games. Meanwhile, infielder Brendan Ryan, considered a candidate for the at least semi-regular duty at the position, continued to suffer from tendinitis in his right wrist and wasn't able to swing the bat.


--The Cardinals had enough minor pitching injuries among some of their young hurlers that manager Tony La Russa briefly explored the possibility of borrowing a pitcher or two from Baltimore in an early exhibition game. That didn't fly, but general manager John Mozeliak, who was surprised by La Russa's request, brought several more pitchers into camp ahead of their normal minor league reporting date.

--3B David Freese missed the start of the exhibition season with a left Achilles tendon injury that occurred in a January car accident. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Freese didn't immediately inform the team of the crash. "The timing of what occurred certainly isn't perfect," GM John Mozeliak said. "He does not want that to hamper his chances. He's just going to have to work through that."

--RHP Mitchell Boggs, a longshot candidate for a rotation spot, began throwing batting practice after being set back early in camp by a stiff shoulder.

--RHP Clayton Mortensen, ticketed for Class AAA Memphis but considered a prospect, was still having elbow problems and wasn't expected to pitch for a while.

--C Yadier Molina caught three games in a row for the Cardinals before heading off to Team Puerto Rico and his participation in the World Baseball Classic.

--OFs Rick Ankiel and Ryan Ludwick split the time hitting fourth in the Cardinals' order early in the exhibition season. Last season, Ludwick had 264 at-bats hitting in the spot behind Albert Pujols, and Ankiel had 217.

--RHP Chris Perez, the leading candidate to close, is working to refine his second pitch, his slider. "It's not there yet," manager Tony La Russa said. "You can't be happy, but it's promising."

BY THE NUMBERS: 1 -- Victories, defeats and ties the Cardinals had in their first three exhibition games.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I can't fool God. ... I'm a big believer that anything you do in the dark is going to come out in the light, and I fear (God) too much to do anything to disappoint him." -- 1B Albert Pujols, on the use of banned substances.

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