Cardinals Philly Cheese – May 4, 2010

The scoop from Philadelphia as the Cards take on the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park in Game 2 of 4. The manager speaks. Ryan Ludwick discusses batting second and proves he knows his baseball cards.

Ludwick's diet in the number two spot


St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Ryan Ludwick will be the first to disagree with the common perception that hitting ahead of Albert Pujols means he is receiving a steady diet of fat fastballs from opposing pitchers to hit. Further, he can back it up.


"I am usually seeing off-speed stuff, rather than first-pitch fastballs," Ludwick explained in Philadelphia. "I don't get it." The expectation is that with the dangerous Pujols next and Matt Holliday following, opposing pitchers would be motivated to get ahead in the count with heat against the Cardinals number two hitter.


Ludwick made it clear that he lays off the first-pitch off-speed offerings. More often than one might expect, it puts the 31-year-old on the way to a free pass. In fact, it is more often than the right-handed hitter himself expects.


Ludwick went on to cite his own walk statistics when hitting down in the order versus second.


"I had zero walks in 18 at-bats when I was batting lower in the order earlier this season," he said. "Batting second, I already have 12 walks in my first 74 at-bats. Go figure."


Of course, Ludwick isn't complaining. Though he asserts he isn't yet totally comfortable at the plate, he is performing as expected. His 12 free passes tie him for third on the team and his .360 on-base percentage is fourth among the regulars. Ludwick's four home runs and 11 RBI are identical totals to those posted to date by the $120 million man Holliday.


Ludwick continues to flash the leather, a strength all season long. He went high up against the screen to pull down what would have been an extra-base hit by the Phillies' Chase Utley in the first inning Monday night.


Ludwick knows his baseball cards


In mid-afternoon, many in the Cardinals clubhouse were either watching the comedy movie "Semi-Pro" or engaging in a spirited game of cards. On a small television near one end of the room, I was watching MLB Network with Ludwick. The game on the television was the Cardinals-Cubs "Sandberg Game" from June 23, 1984.


When the camera showed Whitey Herzog in the Cardinals dugout, I noticed Andy Van Slyke behind the manager and commented on it. Ludwick asked me what year Van Slyke first came up. I said off-hand "late ‘70's, I guess."


Having set the trap, the outfielder pounced. What I didn't know is that starting at the age of seven, Ludwick had collected baseball cards. He was serious enough at it that as he was leaving college, the sale of his entire collection netted him the princely sum of $11,000 in a single transaction.


Ludwick confidently said that when collecting, he had Van Slyke's rookie 1984 Donruss card (pictured). The combination of that remark and some more thought led me to quickly alter my guess to 1983 for the outfielder's debut. A query posed to long-time Cardinals traveling secretary C.J. Cherre did not yield the answer.


I promised the confident Ludwick I would check upon returning to the press box and would publicly fall on my sword if he was correct. Of course, he is. Having made his MLB debut on June 17, 1983, Van Slyke's rookie card was issued in 1984.


Ryan, you are correct!


Manager Tony La Russa's pregame remarks


FOT (Friend of Tony) sighting:


Greg Luzinski, former Phillie and Chicago White Sox player under Tony La Russa, visited the manager before the game. If Luzinski was "The Bull" and former Cardinal Orlando Cepeda was "Baby Bull", how come the baby is 13 years older (72 vs. 59)?


On the taser incident Monday night:


"I know it got a lot of attention… It is a pretty dangerous situation. So, to me the idea is deterrent and that was a pretty significant deterrent. I don't know that I would be thinking too much about going out there again when that is possible.


"I saw him pull it out and said, ‘whoa!' It literally lit up our dugout."


On when the fast start is for real:


"The All-Star break." Win/loss so fragile, such a fine line.


Has "a very deep and tough lineup." Some will improve and a couple of others will drop off. "Matt will hit over .300 and Schumaker will be around .300."


One difference last year is that guys were being asked to hit fourth who were not ready.


On the pitcher hitting eighth:


"I think it is a better lineup. When I don't use it, it is to keep all the questions down." The manager says he waits until the team is struggling to use it. "I have my own little measure at the end of the game" to assess how it is working.


On the lineup Tuesday:


Was going to play either Mather or Stavi. The latter requires Ludwick to play centerfield. Tough call with Stavi hitting .380, but Mather in center was preferred. Rasmus will play Wednesday and Thursday.


On Atlanta's Jason Heyward being named NL Rookie of the Month over Jaime Garcia and David Freese:


"I don't think Heyward did anything not to earn it."


On the designated hitter:


Bobby Cox told him he doesn't like it and he spent a lot of his managerial career in the American League. Thinks it is a better game without the DH.


The DH brings "different considerations."

1)     It is tougher to manage an AL staff and tougher on them. Don't take pitchers out as often and they are spent at the end of the season.

2)     A DH game is an "offensive endurance contest." AL teams must have "built in toughness." AL managers have tough job "managing against crooked numbers" while NL managers wear out with ‘what ifs?'."


On interleague play:


"15 games are more than enough."


At that point, we were shuffled out of the manager's office for the daily hitters meeting, a new addition in 2010. In the past, they were held at the start of series.



Brian Walton can be reached via email at Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.


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