Sunday Morning Coffee with Ray Mileur

Skip Schumaker, the Cardinals new second baseman and leadoff man, has reached base safely in every game he's played this spring. Saturday he had a double in the 5-1 win over the Houston Astros.

The Cardinals defeated the, (hard to put your finger on them), Houston Astros, 5-1 in Saturday's Spring Training game. St. Louis starter Joel Pineiro, in just his second start of the spring, has gotten over, being passed over for the World Baseball Classic, as he tossed four complete frames, giving up just one hit.

After two games, Pineiro has given up only one run on three hits, in a combined six innings on the mound, remarkable considering he entered Spring Training camp with his grip on the job as the team's fifth starter in jeopardy, or it should have been after he finished his first full season with the team in 2008, making 25 starts and posting a record of 7-7, 1 save, 5.15 ERA.

Shortstop Khalil Greene, acquired from the San Diego Padres in December, doubled and knocked in a pair of runs Saturday as he extended his hitting streak to five games, while outfielder Colby Rasmus tripled and had two RBI for St. Louis, to pace the Cardinals offense.

The Cardinals offense has actually been hitting on all eight cylinders. At the start of play on Saturday, the Cardinals led all Grapefruit League NL teams with a spring team batting average of .302 with only the New York Yankees (.310) hitting for a higher average in Grapefruit play. The hitting has been very productive, as St. Louis has scored 64 runs and they have scored nine or more runs in their four Grapefruit League wins. The 64 total spring runs are tops in baseball, with the Cactus League Cubs next closest with 61 runs scored.

The Houston Astros are an interesting team in that the prognosticators, of which they are many, can't make up their minds if the Astros are contenders or cellar dwellers. That said, if you look at the early returns this spring, the Astros are 1-7-1 after Saturday's loss and aren't showing any signs of life. Look for the Astros to finish behind the Cubs, Cards, Brewers and maybe even the Reds, with only the Pirates left to keep the Astros from sinking to the bottom of the standings.


Skip Schumaker had a double in Saturday's contest, the Cardinals new second baseman and perhaps leadoff man, has now reached base safely in every game (eight games) that he has played this spring. Skip is currently hitting .318 with a .400 OBP.


With Skip Schumaker playing well at second and the trying to learn a new position not affecting his at-bats, Colby appears that he'll break camp with the Major League Club. Colby is hitting just .250, but he has managed to get on base at a respectable .351 clip. It doesn't appear I'm going to win this argument, but if Colby is going to play in St. Louis, he should be starting in center, even over Ankiel.


SUNDAY: The Cards return home to play the Marlins on Sunday. Adam Wainwright will take the mound against the Marlins; he'll be followed by P.J. Walters, Tyler Herron, Jason Motte, Chris Perez, Josh Kinney and Fernando Salas.

MONDAY: Open Date


Closer candidate Chris Perez is scheduled to pitch Sunday and to accept a cortisone injection in his left foot to treat a malformed bone near the heel. Perez entered camp as the early favorite on everybody's list, except mine, to be the frontrunner in the closer competition for the team this season. I maintain that Jason Motte ready to take the ball now.

Sick call. The Cardinals interim third baseman Joe Mather and minor league pitcher Shaun Garceau both arrived in camp Saturday feeling ill, while outfielder Ryan Ludwick reported that he was experiencing some oblique muscle discomfort. The three didn't play Saturday, Mather should be considered day-to-day, with Ludwick probably returning to action Tuesday, after Monday's off day.

Speaking of third base, Troy Glaus has begun a light tossing program as he tries to return from the surgery he had in January to repair the suprascapular muscle. The Cardinals are hoping that Glaus can return by mid-April or early May, but it could be June before Glaus is back and on his game.

Also on the comeback trail, former Cy Young Award winner, Chris Carpenter threw 37 pitches (22 for strikes) and did not give up a hit in two innings of play on Friday, as he continues to make progress and should be ready on opening day to take his place in the rotation. I'm not sure when the Cardinals are going to schedule Carpenters first start, but I'd wait and have him start the Cardinals fifth game of the season, giving Carp until April 10th, to prepare for his 2009 season debut. That would give him still a little over a month to get ready.


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