The Cardinals Major League Notebook 04/21

Center fielder Rick Ankiel, who hit 22 of his 25 homers in four months last year before he suffered an abdominal strain that finally ended his season, hasn't had nearly the start he had in 2008.

Ankiel, who hit five of his 25 homers and had his most at-bats (100) in April last year, has been limited to two extra base-hits -- neither a home run. He has only two runs batted in and a .179 average and has shared outfield time with Colby Rasmus, Chris Duncan and Ryan Ludwick. Manager Tony La Russa, who might have to play Ankiel more consistently to try to get him going, said he thinks Ankiel is pressing too much.

"He's just trying to force things," La Russa said. "You just want him to get back to basics."

In Ankiel's last game Saturday, before the Cardinals had two days off, he was 0-for-6 and didn't get the ball out of the infield after he had doubled in each of the two previous games in Chicago.


--- Third-base coach Jose Oquendo was limping after being hit below the left knee by a foul off the bat of 1B Albert Pujols on Saturday. "It's the first time in 12 years," said Oquendo. "I didn't have anywhere to go."

--- It was a rare three-game series for 1B Albert Pujols. Pitched around by the Chicago Cubs, who walked him four times and hit him once, Pujols went 1-for-9, sometimes seemingly coming out of his comfort zone in order to get something to hit.

--- 3B David Freese, who has started only four games so far, might be on his way soon to Class AAA Memphis so that he can play every day. INFs Brian Barden and Joe Thurston, besides Freese, have been manning third base in the absence of injured Troy Glaus, and manager Tony La Russa said, "Right now, I'm running Barden out there." Barden had three homers on the recent six-game trip.

--- After Sunday's rainout and Monday's scheduled off day, the Cardinals are slated to play the maximum of 20 straight days before an off day on May 11 between Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.

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