Cardinals New York Minutes: August 4, 2009

News from the Big Apple as the St. Louis Cardinals take on the Mets in the first of a two-game midweek series.

I spoke with outfielder Colby Rasmus about his injured heel. He showed me a pad that surrounds the sides of his left heel that fits inside of his shoe. The deep bone bruise is on the inside and is not expected to get better until the off-season. The rookie had a shot last week and is not in pain anymore.


Under questioning, La Russa seemed more concerned about Rasmus' strength than his heel as reasoning for not playing the outfielder. TLR says Colby needs to regain his strength now that he has his diet under control. Rasmus confirmed to me that he lost 20 pounds since spring training and now weighs 190.


The reason injured third baseman Troy Glaus was in St. Louis last week was to get an injection for a bulging disc in his back. When I asked Tony La Russa when we might see Glaus again, the manager said in a very non-optimistic manner, "Maybe in September". TLR went on to point out that Glaus wouldn't have pulled himself out (of rehab action in the minors) if there weren't "issues".


Ryan Ludwick seemed proud when I offered congratulations on winning the NL Player of the Month Award. I asked him what the gift will be. He said he didn't know, but had received a nice watch for being Player of the Week earlier in July. Kyle McClellan chipped in with a comment that last year when Todd Wellemeyer won the Pitcher of the Month (how times change!), he received a "nice, big television". La Russa noted that Ludwick's results were to be expected based on the "law of averages". He is "healthy and motivated", like he was before he was hurt.


Three young men were in uniform in the clubhouse and on the field before the game. They are the sons of Albert Pujols, Ryan Franklin and Trever Miller.


I had a long and cordial chat with Khalil Greene. He told me that he really enjoyed playing in Memphis – playing all around and being in the lineup every day. He acknowledged that many players are negative out having to go to Triple-A, but not him.


Greene is among those planning to see relatives during Thursday's day off in the Pittsburgh area. Bench coach Joe Pettini gets to make a stop home in West Virginia.


Among the day off activities on Monday were Rasmus going fishing and the coaching triumvirate of La Russa, Pettini and Jose Oquendo golfing. TLR then went to Rams camp in the afternoon and enjoyed himself so much that he left later than planned.


Shortstop Brendan Ryan was hobbling around with his left ankle wrapped, but was somewhat optimistic as he planned to take batting practice and try to run for the first time since his injury. He noted the swelling was down considerably. It was apparently very painful at the time as he had to take two morphine shots. Ryan has a $5 bet with hitting coach Hal McRae that he can make it back by Friday. TLR would only say that "it would be great" if Ryan could return by then.


La Russa wasn't celebrating the extra days off in August. He acknowledged that it has been a tough stretch recently, but "the days off create another problem". They affect timing and routine. While it helps keep players "fresh mentally and physically", it requires "strength of mind" to adjust. Overall, he called it a "nice break" and "refreshing" when all was said and done.


Asked the inevitable questions about Pujols slump, TLR said he has had to answer these questions in the past, too. "I think he's sore in spots, but he can handle it." "He's smart. He's a worker. He has pride. He's going to fix it." The slump "proves how hard it is to be a great hitter in the majors" and how "fine the line is" (between success and failure). La Russa noted that "so far the numbers say Albert has not taken advantage of (Matt) Holliday being here. That will change. I hope it will be tonight."


Among the Cardinals signing autographs before the game: Skip Schumaker, Mark DeRosa and the manager himself.


In a programming note, because I will be running Fox Sports Midwest's live blog during Wednesday afternoon's game, I am unsure when and in what form my report that day will take.




Brian Walton can be reached via email at Catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog.


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