Cardinals Philly Cheese – May 5, 2010

The scoop from Philadelphia as the Cards take on the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park in Game 3 of 4. The manager speaks, focusing on the defensive greatness of Yadier Molina.

FOT (Friend of Tony) sighting:


OK, it wasn't as much of a friend as former player and current Players' Union executive, but Bobby Bonilla stuck his head into La Russa's office. Former Cardinal Rick Sutcliffe, here for broadcasting duties, was also in the clubhouse.


Manager Tony La Russa's pregame remarks


Looking back on Tuesday's game:


"It was impressive – both starting pitchers. We had a couple of chances. We couldn't break through. Hamels pitched very well. You've got to be good enough to get that run in, in the ninth, trying to hold on, but we weren't good enough."


On the tenth inning with Holliday striking out and not breaking to first:


"Matt's groin is a little tight. That's why I went out and talked to him before he had to play defense in the tenth inning. Albert wasn't yelling at him. It is his groin, but he is ok to play today. It just got tight so I was going to run for him if he had got on base… "


On contributions of rookies Jaime Garcia and David Freese:


"… They've got off to good starts. They have been the key to our good start. …


"In spring training, we tried to put the heat on them for them to get used to the pressure. They earn the respect of their teammates because they earned the job."


On the Cardinals good start:


"When you have five months to play, you don't belabor it. Acknowledge it is a great start and build on it."


On Matt Holliday:


"He is hitting .290, getting his hits but just has not gotten red hot for 20 or 30 at-bats. I think he is really close.


"Like most good hitters, when he is really good, pitches that are off, he takes them and gets the count in his favor and when they are in the strike zone, he puts the barrel on them.


"When you are not quite as good, you take the good pitch and swing at the other one. But he is doing a lot of good things. He is hanging in there. I think he is close."


On whether Holliday is entrenched as the cleanup hitter:


"…I feel he is our fourth place hitter. I don't see anyone who has the impact that Matt does. I mean, he hasn't been great and he is hitting .290. That is a pretty good sign."


On the passing of Detroit broadcaster and Hall of Famer Ernie Harwell:


"Dunc and I agree that after being around 40 years, he is one of the neatest, classiest talented guys in this game – whether it is in or out of the uniform. He is a real gentleman. … A great man."


On Aaron Miles' work in Florida:


"I have not heard anything yet."


On Yadier Molina defensively:


"He started out in his first year in the big leagues, he was above average and every year he is a little better. … Now he just has experience. He is gifted. If you watch close the stuff he does, it is just…  You have to have pitchers that can execute the pitches but he gives hitters different looks. You just watch the times they take pitches when they were looking for something different. He has a great feel for it. He is really, really good.


"What he gets is what Dunc's style is. Here pretty soon, he will sit with Duncan in about 20 minutes (at about 4:45 each day). In the preparation with Duncan, they talk about the first two days, then about Penny versus the hitters. In between innings, they have conversations. If he sees something a little different with the hitter or the pitcher, he will ask questions.


"If he is stuck, he will look over and Duncan will give him a pitch, but that doesn't happen very often. Once or twice a year maybe. He's really good."


On Mike Matheny's influence:


"…Yadi learned from him the value of video, how to call a great game. …"


On Garcia's success also being attributed to Molina:


"I think it is a fair question. He is definitely helping him. I think he is definitely helping him. … A lot of it is being ready and devoting yourself to the pitcher.


…In his first year when he played, I said he could go 0-for-the-season and would still be our catcher. I really wasn't kidding. … He won't go 0-for-the-season because he has a nice stroke. …."



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

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