St. Louis Post-Dispatch from St. Louis, Missouri on March 18, 2001 · Page 33
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St. Louis Post-Dispatch from St. Louis, Missouri · Page 33

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St. Louis, Missouri
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Sunday, March 18, 2001
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Page 33
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3 MAR r8 20Q1 D16 ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH SPORTS SUNDAY, MARCH 18, 2001 STLtoday.com ' -f- '' 'i, BaseM " iS i jPujols continues to impress Cardinals I Young infielder i doubles twice in win over Montreal By Rick Hummel iv ",, Of the Post-Dispatch 5 JUPITER, Fla Most of the other minor leaguers, especially the inexperienced ones such as Albert Pujols, have been returned to their roots down the hall at the Cardinals' spring training complex. ' " But Pujols, a , strapping, fj-foot-3, 210-pounder, remains. And though it seems almost impossible that a one-year pro could stick with the major-league club out of spring training, he is still here with two weeks to go before the regular season. After Pujols doubled twice and starter Dustin Hermanson tap-danced around six Montreal singles in four innings in a 3-1 Cardinals exhibition victory. Saturday, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said of Pujols, 'Outstanding." Asked when Pujols might be ready to stay in the major leagues, La Russa said: "I'm thinking mostly about the 2001 St Louis Cardinals. As long as he's here, he has a chance." " Pujols, who rushed through the system from Class A to Class AAA last year, has had 26 at-bats in big-league games this spring. . "It's been a pretty good experience being with these big guys," he said. "Wherever I go, if I go down, I'm just going to try to work hard and try to-make the club next year or whenever I come back." A while later, Fred Hanser, one of the Cardinals' owners, walked into La Russa's office. "How's Pujols looking?" Hanser asked, with a smile. Replied La Russa, kiddingly, "Obviously not ready." La Russa, referring to Triple-A manager Gaylen Pitts, said, "Whenever I see Pittsie, he talks about how much (Pujols) needs seasoning."' The Cardinals trotted out their top two starters for what amounted to a doubleheader Saturday. Darryl Kile worked four innings in a split-squad game at Fort Lauderdale, Fla., as the Cardinals CHRIS LEEPOST-DISPATCH Slugger Albert Pujols advanced swiftly through the Cards farm system last year, going from Class A to Class AAA. If his hot hitting continues, he might take the next step soon. , Cardinals (ss) 3, Expos (ss) 1 Highlight: Dustin Hermanson pitched four scoreless innings against his former team. Cardinals spring report Cardinals (ss) 4, Orioles (ss) 3 Highlight: Darrell Whitmore tripled and scored in the ninth inning. Spring record: 12-6 (The Cardinals have won eight games in a row.) Up next: Cardinals vs. Florida, 12:05 p.m. Sunday. beat Baltimore 4-3. Hermanson then got the win here as the Cardinals ran their exhibition winning streak to eight and their overall record to 12-6. "A lot of time when you win in spring training, it means that the guys who are playing late are playing well," La Russa said. One such player was St Loui-san Kerry Robinson, an outfielder brought back from the minor-league complex. Robinson, a late-inning replacement tripled and scored a run and singled to drive in another. Hermanson, who probably will start the second game of the season for the Cardinals the rotation is being set up that way, at least was facing his former Montreal teammates for the first time since his trade to the Cardinals last December. Hermanson, whose earned-run average for 14 innings this spring is 1.93, said he had been anticipating this game. "It's good to see the old boys. But I don't like them too much not at all when I'm facing them." Hermanson has given up 17 hits in 14 innings but only three runs. "You want to work through those things," Hermanson said. "Sometimes you don't want to go through spring training and just breeze through everything." Hermanson said it didn't take him long to become comfortable in the Cardinals clubhouse. "With the personality of these guys, it was real easy to fit in," he said. "Ifs been great coming over because of the history the organization has behind it to be able to see guys like Stan Musial and Lou Brock and (Bob) Gibson walking around here. (Dennis) Eckersley has been here. To see those guys still around the clubhouse shows you what kind of organization this is for them to want to be here. They could be out golfing." . As impressed as Hermanson seems about being with the Cardinals, Mark McGwire is just impressed that he is here. , . "It looks like (general manager) Walt Jocketty has made two really good trades two years in a row,". McGwire said, "in (Jim) Edmonds and then in Hermanson and (reliever Steve) Kline." -,; McGwire took part in what he thought was a first for him on Saturday. With runners at first and second and one out, Montreal pitcher Javier Vazquez faked a bunt and then tried to chop a ball through the infield. McGwire had been charging from first base, but when Vazquez grounded to shortstop Plac-ido Polanco, McGwire, sore knee and all, retreated in time to catch second baseman Stubby Clapp's relay throw from second and make the tag for an inning-ending double play, even though McGwire admitted he missed the tag by about a foot When he heard that McGwire had said he never had made that play before, La Russa said, "He . played in the American League. They don't bunt very much over there." Sunday's game against Florida, besides featuring Rick Ankiel's second start of the spring, will mark the return of second baseman Fernando Vina, who has been out much of the spring with a heel injury. He flied out as a pinch-hitter Saturday. nm Yftiii Ripken plans to take batting practice soon Boston pitcher Martinez V is hit by a line drive a,. ( . ' . From News Services ; Cal Ripken's injured rib passed another stress test Saturday and the Baltimore Orioles third baseman said he will take live batting practice for the first time this spring Sunday or Monday. Ripken fielded simulated bunts from strength and conditioning coach Tim Bishop on a practice field. Ripken made IS or 20 throws in which he would charge a slow roller, field it and throw to first base. "I didn't feel any trace of (pain)," Ripken said. "When you threw Guerrero out. Also, Manny Ramirez took batting practice Saturday and is optimistic that his strained left hamstring is healing. Phillies: Pitcher Robert Person (University City High) was scratched from Saturday's scheduled start against Cleveland because of a stiff shoulder. Person said the injury is not serious and he hopes to start Monday. "This is just precautionary," Person said. "I could have pitched today, but why push it? I just felt a little stiffness so I'm backing off a little. We're getting close to the season and I don't need to blow out anything now." Person isn't concerned. "If you go around and ask every pitcher in spring training if he's experienced any kind of ft ret Mimfl harr vrmVo.fl ;HHti hifr' thinirina th wht-801611658. 1 guarantee you ev- snm fiiino R,,t cnfriW thm erybody does, hasn't been any." f Ripken fractured his upper right ribcage during a workout in his Baltimore home the week before spring training began. His spring workouts were limited; uik.. til earner this week, wfJtie'fjfe-gan hitting off a tee partaking part in team drills. f V". .Orioles manager JfikHajy grove said Ripken, once healthy, would need only a week of exhibition games to be ready for the team's April 2 opener. That would mean Ripken would have to be in the lineup by March 24. - Red Sox Pedro Martinez was hit at the base of the thumb on his glove hand by a line drive in the fifth inning of Saturday's game against Cincinnati. "I'm not injured," Martinez said. "The glove is the right hand to be hit. Nothing really scary." The three-time Cy Young Award winner had X-rays of his left hand, but they did not show a fracture, the Red Sox said. I. Wilton Guerrero's line drive struck Martinez in the hand, then glanced up and hit his left shoulder. Martinez picked up the ball off the ground and Person said. "They might not tell you, but I know from being a teammate. That's the life of a pitcher. That's what we do. You're going to experience a little pain." - On Friday, Phillies manager Larry Bowa made the surprise announcement that Omar Daal, ,9'-game -loser; in 2000, will start on opening day instead of .Person. Person was bypassed because the Phillies have three lefthanders in their rotation and Bowa didn't want them starting on consecutive days. Royals: Third baseman Joe Randa, who has hit higher than .300 in four of the past five seasons, signed a two-year contract extension through the 2003 season. Randa, who hit .304 with 15 home runs and a career-high 106 RBIs in 2000, was eligible for free agency after this season. . Indians: Third basemen Travis Fryman will avoid surgery on his right elbow, but he will not be able to throw for three or four weeks. Fryman left spring training camp for Cleveland on Friday for an MRI, which showed a strained ligament. He has com plained of discomfort since spring training started. Dodgers:. If infielder Dave Hansen's broken left hand keeps him out of the opening-day lineup, which is looking more likely, the Dodgers probably will use a platoon at third. Half of that would be Chris Donnels, but the coaching staff believes Jeff Reboulet could be a better righthanded alternative at third. Tim Bogar then probably would make the team as a backup middle infielder. White Sow With the start of the start of the season just two weeks away, the Chicago White Sox are no closer to finding a fifth starting pitcher than they were at the beginning of spring training. . But pitching coach Nardi Contreras says the White Sox have plenty of time for more evaluation. "The five spot isn't that important for us right now," said Contreras. "We'll only need (a fifth starter) one time until the 22nd (of April.)." But among those vying for the fifth spot in Chicago's rotation Sean Lowe, Jon Garland, Rocky Biddle, and Kip Wells only Wells has posted respectable statistics this spring. Until his last outing, that is. On March 13, Wells was rocked for three runs on eight hits in a four-inning stint against the Cubs. Then there is the question of whether James Baldwin, 29, will arrive in Chicago in time to claim the fourth spot in the Sox rotation. The righthander is coming off arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder and may not be ready until mid-April. Yankees: Chuck Knoblauch made his sixth error of the spring, a bad throw in an exhibition game against Los Angeles. Five of his errors have been on throws. Knoblauch declined comment after the game. Mets: Jim Leyritz, wno can catch, play first or be a designated hitter, was released. CBlLSIflBO!! Cards seek lefthanders until Christiansen returns Early schedule calls for another lefty in bullpen By Rick Hummel Of the Post-Dispatch JUPITER, Fla. Cardinals lefthander Jason Christiansen, who had offseason surgery on his left shoulder, is programmed to begin pitching in camp games next week, but pitching coach Dave Duncan said Saturday that it was "unlikely" Christiansen would be ready for the start of the regular season on April 2. Duncan said, however, he hoped that Christiansen would be able to pitch for the club two weeks into the season. With the Cardinals playing Colorado-and Arizona, two predominantly , left-handed-hitting teams, In .12 of their first 15 games, manager Tony La Russa and Duncan probably will want another lefthander in their bullpen to go with Steve .Kline.. ,v....... For the moment, at least, that lefthander is likely to be Jeff Tabaka, a veteran who missed the 1999 season after having elbow surgery and who pitched mostly for Colorado Springs in the Colorado system last year. Tabaka, 37, has pitched for Houston, San Diego, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh in the major leagues. The Cardinals also are looking elsewhere for possible lefthanded help. They have been scouting Dennis Cook of the New York Mets, who are strong in left-handed relievers. Duncan said the Cardinals could, in theory, open with just one lefthander in the bullpen, but he said, "If there's a lefthander who really shows you he belongs on this club, hell be there." Duncan said non-roster pitcher Tabaka "really has done a pretty good job. That's why we keep looking at him." In five spring innings, Tabaka has given up two runs on six hits. Christiansen experienced some pain after a recent throwing session but said he felt much better Saturday. Overall, he said, "I think I've surprised them by not having setbacks. Duncan said he figured Christiansen for at least 13 more Christiansen Not ready yet Tabaka Christiansen replacement throwing days before the pitcher would be ready for a regular-sea-. son game. Rkfc Ankiel, who had a brilliant opener, working two scoreless innings against the New York Mets on Tuesday, will make his second start today here against the Florida Marlins. Righthander Brian Barber, one of the Cardinals' three No. 1 draft picks in 1991, is back in the Cardinals' minor-league camp. Barber, who has been in the major leagues with the Cardinals and Kansas City, was brought to camp after throwing in a tryout in front of player de- velopment director Mike Jor-gensen. Barber, who had a second elbow surgery before last season, was cut from the Cleveland camp last spring. "It was one of those deals where I was one of 35 pitchers in camp," said Barber. "But I couldn't pitch anyway." After being let go by Cleveland, Barber pitched for the Long Island Ducks in an independent league. And now he is here. "I'm almost 28 years old," he said... "This is kind of make or break. But this is the best I've felt for four or five years." Outfielder Luis Saturria, sent to the minors last week, boarded the bus for Fort Lauderdale, Fla., as an extra man for one of the split-squad games Saturday. He wasn't supposed to be on it. He was supposed to stay in Jupiter, but Memphis manager Gaylen Pitts admitted he gave Saturria the wrong information. In that split-squad game, the Cardinals beat Baltimore, 4-3, with Shane Andrews driving in two runs. Darryl Kile, likely to start the first game of the season, gave up two runs and five hits in four innings. 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