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News » St. Louis Cardinals Inside Pitch 2009-02-17

St. Louis Cardinals Inside Pitch 2009-02-17

St. Louis Cardinals Inside Pitch 2009-02-17
Manager Tony La Russa didn't get the impact bat, veteran closer or starting pitching help he desired in the offseason, but he appeared to win at least one battle. Veteran Adam Kennedy, whom La Russa benched last season and the year before, will not be his second baseman this season.

After Kennedy was waived before the final season of his $10 million, three-year contract, general manager John Mozeliak, who had spoken with La Russa, said, "It became apparent that there was a preference for this outcome."

Kennedy had asked to be traded late last season, but Mozeliak found no takers. In the meantime, the Cardinals lost free agent second basemen Felipe Lopez (to Arizona) and Aaron Miles (to the Chicago Cubs). That left Kennedy as the incumbent, almost by default, but La Russa said, "When I look at what we're going to do in spring training, the smartest thing to do is have a competition at second base.

"Adam was not really enthused about doing that at the end of the year. He wanted to come in and be the second baseman. I don't think we can do that."

The timing of the release surprised Kennedy and others. Kennedy, who hit .280 last year after dipping to .219 in an injury-plagued 2007, said, "I obviously did something to tick Tony off, whatever it is. Whatever.

"Mo said Tony would rather not have me there. That's about it."

Center fielder Skip Schumaker, who hit .302 as a starter last year, got in some early work at second base before the position players arrived for spring training. Infielder Brendan Ryan has some experience at second base during the last two seasons for the Cardinals, and Brian Barden was an infielder on the 2008 U.S. Olympic team, although he mostly played shortstop.

WHERE, WHEN: Roger Dean Stadium, Jupiter, Fla. First exhibition game is Feb. 25 against the Marlins.

TOP CANDIDATE TO SURPRISE: OF Chris Duncan is coming back from injury and can't be forgotten. If Duncan is healthy -- he had disk surgery in his neck -- he might be able to recapture his power of 2006 and 2007, when he hit 22 and 21 homers as a part-time player.

TOP CANDIDATE TO DISAPPOINT: OF Ryan Ludwick set the bar high last season when he hit .299 with 37 homers and 113 RBIs in his first season as a regular. If he hits .280 with 25 homers and 90 RBIs, is that necessarily a bad season?

AUTHORITY FIGURES: Tony La Russa, in his 14th season with the club, is the Cardinals' top manager in wins at 1,141 and No. 3 in baseball history at 2,461. His Cardinals teams invariably reflect his no-nonsense, grind-it-out style, and he has little use for players who don't have that attitude. At this stage, every year could be his last year with the Cardinals.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: February 17, 2009

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