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News » St. Louis Cardinals Inside Pitch 2009-02-27

St. Louis Cardinals Inside Pitch 2009-02-27

St. Louis Cardinals Inside Pitch 2009-02-27
With Chris Carpenter, the longtime staff ace, proceeding smoothly as he tries to overcome his arm issues of the last two years, manager Tony La Russa has established his five-man rotation for spring training games: right-handers Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, Kyle Lohse, Todd Wellemeyer and Joel Pineiro.

But La Russa and pitching coach Dave Duncan said Kyle McClellan and Brad Thompson will work as starters through the first half of spring training, and possibly beyond. Duncan has McClellan scheduled for at least two exhibition-game starts in March as insurance in case Carpenter's progress slows or somebody falters.

"They told me to come in almost game-ready," McClellan said. "I feel like I'm ahead of schedule. That was on purpose. I'm trying to win a job."

Carpenter, four months removed from nerve transposition surgery near his right elbow, impressed all on-lookers with his first five bullpen throwing sessions.

"He's at the point where he's upset if he doesn't paint," Duncan said. Carpenter was slated to start the club's fourth exhibition game, against Washington.

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 27, 2009

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