The Cardinals enter their last week of play before the All-Star break unable to have put together anything longer than a two-game winning streak over the last month. So it appears clear the Cardinals, though fighting injuries, still aren't clicking on all cylinders.
But before the team headed for three games at Colorado and three more at Houston, manager Tony La Russa also was concerned about avoiding a possible letdown with three off days coming up for many of his players
"It's human nature," La Russa said. "Teams, and quite often players, see that All-Star break coming and mentally lose an edge. So it's a real challenge for us, especially going on the road. We've got two series to play, so we'll be talking to each other about staying ready."
The rotation doesn't shape up ideally for the Cardinals. Staff aces Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter and Jaime Garcia will be able to make just one start apiece on the trip. That leaves three for right-hander Blake Hawksworth, just pulled out of the bullpen, and veteran right-hander Jeff Suppan, who was signed as a free agent some three weeks ago but hasn't won yet in four starts.
La Russa will try to get
two starts out of Hawksworth before the break, Tuesday night at
NOTES AND QUOTES
RHP Brad Penny, out since
May 21 with a strained muscle in his upper back, is expected to throw a side
session Tuesday night in Denver, then go on a rehab assignment, probably to
Class AA Springfield or Class A Quad Cities. Penny could be ready to return to
the Cardinals during an eight-game homestand against
INF Tyler Greene, who has performed well in three starts since coming up from Class AAA Memphis, will play shortstop for the foreseeable future. SS Brendan Ryan, whose average is down to .198 after a 4-for-40 dive, will go to the bench. "We'll run him out there for a little while," manager Tony La Russa said of Greene. "Whoever plays the best plays the most." Greene had a homer and a two-run triple in his first two starts last weekend and played flawlessly in his third start Sunday.
3B David Freese, out with a bone bruise on his right ankle, is expected to go on a rehab assignment during the All-Star break, so that he might be ready when the second half starts on July 15. Freese is hitting .206 with 36 RBI, but he has just four homers.
RHP Ryan Franklin, who
made his first All-Star team last year at age 36, was philosophic after not
being selected to the squad this year despite his 15 saves in only 16
RHP Adam Wainwright
helped himself with a three-run double Sunday in a 7-1 win over
By the Numbers:
20,60 - 1B Albert Pujols has had at least that many home runs and that many runs batted in eight times in his career, including this year, through the first 81 games.
Quote to Note:
"It's pretty unbelievable. It makes me sick to my stomach."
- SS Brendan Ryan, on his average sinking to .198.
RF Ryan Ludwick (strained left calf) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 26. He hopes to return just after the All-Star break.
3B David Freese (bone bruise on right ankle) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 28. He will begin a rehab assignment during the All-Star break, and he might return to the Cardinals just after the break.
RHP Kyle Lohse (right forearm strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 23, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 5. He had surgery May 28 to alleviate muscle discomfort. He played catch June 28 for the first time since the surgery.
RHP Brad Penny (strained upper back) went on the 15-day disabled list May 22. He threw bullpen sessions June 28 and July 1. He might begin a rehab assignment the second weekend in July, and he could return to the Cardinals shortly after the All-Star break.