On getting relievers ready
Bullpen catcher Jamie Pogue, who warms up every reliever, says he does not see an appreciable difference in relievers' stuff before good outings compared to ones that do not turn out as well. They typically throw 12-15 offerings to him before their allotted eight warm-up tosses on the field. Pogue noted that early in the season, the relievers were really letting it go in the pen, but now that they have pitched a lot (and warmed up even more often), they tend to conserve themselves a bit more before entering the game.
Not surprisingly, the third round of the PGA was receiving considerable attention on the clubhouse televisions. Like many of us, some players are also thinking about the upcoming fantasy football season.
Missing the rain
Despite the Cardinals batting practice being canceled due to rain coming into Philadelphia, assistant hitting coach John Mabry was all smiles. "I'm loving it," was his reply to my query as to how his job is going. Mabry pointed out that BP especially benefits those not starting regularly but all gain advantage in taking infield and tracking fly balls.
A history lesson
The oldest living Phillie (and oldest living Cardinal), Freddy Schmidt, is on hand at Citizens Bank Park for Alumni Night. He's 96 and played for St. Louis in 1944, 1946 and 1947. You can read more about Schmidt here.
First pitch ex-Cards
Saturday's ceremonial first pitch was done with a twist. Phillies legends (and ex-Cardinals) Tim McCarver and Steve Carlton were the first pitch battery, but in a reversal from their positions in 227 games together, this time McCarver pitched to Carlton. He threw a strike.
I initially thought it odd that new shortstop Ryan Jackson was placed in the clubhouse between Kyle Lohse and Jason Motte. However, after more thought (and a well-placed question), it made sense. Think of Jackson as a replacement for Greene, #27. Then it makes sense that the visiting clubhouse manager had that player between #26 (Lohse) and #30 (Motte).
|Jackson in spring camp|
I mentioned yesterday that in taking #8, Jackson assumed the number last worn in the regular season by Nick Punto last year. While correct, I did not also note that non-roster invitee Eugenio Velez was assigned the number during spring training, while Jackson wore double-eights. When both players were assigned to Triple-A to start the regular season, Velez kept his number, while Jackson wore #3.
8 in Memphis
Fast forwarding to the present, Jackson being added to the 40-man and being assigned 8 now would tend to indicate to me that Velez may not be joining St. Louis anytime soon. In his defense, the 30-year-old Velez has 30 stolen bases in 36 attempts, 11 home runs, 29 doubles, four triples, 53 RBI, a .281 average and a slugging mark of .464 for Memphis. Amaziingly, all are best on the Redbirds.
Summarizing manager Mike Matheny's pre-game remarks
On Jackson making his first start (batting eighth and playing at second base):
"He needed to play… He has done a good job against left-handers… Gives him a better opportunity facing a lefty… We don't want him sitting too long… We told him to enjoy it and keep doing what he has been doing. The game is the same… Yesterday was good for him to learn signs… He is a sharp guy… He is ready…" Interestingly, Jackson learned of his first start Saturday from seeing the posted lineup card in the clubhouse.
On whether to skip a starter on the day off and keep Wainwright on every fifth day:
"We will stay with the rotation as is… In the dog days, giving an extra day off is good… Jaime (Garcia) is lined up this way; otherwise he would be on short rest…" Matheny confirmed August 19 is Garcia's target return date to the rotation.
On the offense having just four hits the last three games:
"Credit the pitching, but don't give them too much credit… Either we have hit a lot or a little and not much in the middle…
On the Lohse-Holliday matchup Friday night:
"They matched up like a heavyweight bout."
On whether Barret Browning is available:
"He has pitched three of four… Will wait and decide after warmups…"
On Skip Schumaker's health/absence from the lineup:
"Skip is ready… The matchups haven't worked out for him lately."
On Rafael Furcal's condition:
"He is playing good shortstop… We will take whatever we can get offensively… If you have to depend on offense from shortstop, that is not good… Fielding and throwing not affecting him as much – it is swinging."
On Allen Craig's condition:
"He constantly has leg issues… He might be a little afraid to let it go… We watch closely and stay close to the trainers…" On him not scoring in the ninth inning Friday: "He didn't have a good jump at all."
Link to Friday's companion article.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.
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