Results tagged ‘ Matt Holliday ’

Game 85: Cardinals-Angels …

Cardinals (50-33)

STLMatt Carpenter, 2B
Carlos Beltran, RF
Matt Holliday, DH
Allen Craig, LF
Yadier Molina, C
Matt Adams, 1B
David Freese, 3B
Daniel Descalso, SS
Jon Jay, CF

SP: RH Adam Wainwright (11-5, 2.22 ERA)

Angels (40-44)

CALJ.B. Shuck, LF
Mike Trout, CF
Albert Pujols, DH
Josh Hamilton, RF
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Mark Trumbo, 1B
Alberto Callaspo, 3B
Hank Conger, C
Erick Aybar, SS

SP: RH Joe Blanton (2-10, 5.07 ERA)

  • Mike Scioscia still won’t reveal who the Saturday starting pitcher is, but it’s still leaving heavily towards left-hander Michael Roth. Roth, once again, was not listed in the lineup sheet under the bullpen. He threw one inning on Wednesday, which would qualify as his bullpen day, and Scioscia said they won’t be calling someone up from Triple-A to make that start. “We have a couple contingencies we’re looking at,” Scioscia said, “but we’ll have a group of guys we can choose from for Saturday.” Billy Buckner worked 4 1/3 innings in Wednesday’s 12-2 loss, throwing 71 pitches, so no chance he gets the start. Garrett Richards pitched two innings, throwing 40 pitches. He could be a candidate, but Richards hasn’t been stretched out past three innings since moving back to the bullpen. Roth’s last seven appearances in Class A have been starts.
  • Conger is starting back-to-back games. He and Chris Iannetta now have the same amount of starts since June 12: 10.
  • Ryan Madson threw another bullpen session today. This is his fourth since he began getting off a mound every three days after a long stint of merely playing catch. Asked how many more bullpen sessions he needs before venturing out on a rehab assignment, Scioscia said: “It’s tough to say. We’ve tried to guess along the way and I think we’re past that. We just have to see how he comes out of it and we’ll go from there.”
  • Scioscia has been in awe of what Yasiel Puig has done with the Dodgers. He’s in agreement with a lot of others in that Puig many not have as much time in the big leagues to be All-Star worthy, but believes he may get in anyway, saying: “I think he’s got to go a little further to earn it. I don’t think Major League Baseball will discount what he’s done, even though it’s a limited amount of at-bats. There’s a pool now to bring the best talent into that game because of the bearing it has on getting home-field advantage for the World Series. That’s going to give him a deeper look than maybe it would’ve been in any other situation.”
  • Trout had 290 plate appearances in the first half last year; Puig has 116 with 11 games left. As for how their situations compare, Scioscia said: “These guys are doing things you very rarely see young players come up and do. He’s played to his potential at a young age. A lot of parallels you can draw in that regard.”
  • In case you hadn’t noticed, Trout has been wearing a shinguard on his left foot during plate appearances after fouling a ball off there on Tuesday. He said the shin is fine now, but he’s wearing the guard for extra protection because it doesn’t bother him when he hits.

Alden

How Angels’ ‘Big 3′ stacks up in 2013 …

Josh Hamilton

I wrote recently about the Angels’ own prestigious “Big Three” of Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton — how they could potentially hold up historically and in this era.

But how do they hold up in 2013? There’s little debate that the Angels now have the most talented and celebrated lineup trio in baseball, giving them arguably the game’s most potent offense. But I was a little stunned that their 2012 stats didn’t show it.

In fact, when combining each of their OPS from 2012, the Angels’ trio ranked third, behind those of the Tigers and Reds. Below is the top 15, based on combined OPS of the top three current players in each lineup (minimum is 400 plate appearances) …

  • Tigers (Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Austin Jackson): 2.795
  • Reds (Joey Votto, Ryan Ludwick, Jay Bruce): 2.759
  • Angels (Trout, Pujols, Hamilton): 2.752
  • Brewers (Ryan Braun, Aramis Ramirez, Corey Hart): 2.729
  • Red Sox (David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Mike Napoli*): 2.635
  • Blue Jays (Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Reyes, Melky Cabrera): 2.627
  • Cardinals (Matt Holliday, Allen Craig, Yadier Molina): 2.627
  • Rangers (Adrian Beltre, David Murphy, A.J. Pierzynski): 2.607
  • Rockies (Carlos Gonzalez, Dexter Fowler, Tyler Colvin): 2.602
  • Pirates (Andrew McCutchen, Garrett Jones, Pedro Alvarez): 2.569
  • D-backs (Aaron Hill, Paul Goldschmidt, Jason Kubel): 2.565
  • Yankees (Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira): 2.547
  • Twins (Josh Willingham, Joe Mauer, Ryan Doumit): 2.532
  • Giants (Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, Brandon Belt): 2.527
  • Dodgers (Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Adrian Gonzalez): 2.524

* Napoli’s deal still hasn’t been finalized. 

** A special thanks to all of you for making this blog the 10th-most popular among MLB.com beat writers in 2012. You’re the whipped cream on my sundae. 

Alden 

6 Divisions in 6 Days, Day 3 …

Leading up to Opening Day, I’ll roll out an All-Star team for each of the six divisions in baseball — that includes a manager, a starting nine (with a DH also for the National League), three starters and two relievers. One catch: Each team must have at least one representative, and the skipper doesn’t count. Feel free to submit your own lineups below. I’d love to see how yours differ.

Day 3: NL Central
Probably the most wide-open division in baseball (except you can probably count out the Astros).

Manager: Dusty Baker, CIN

Lineup

Andrew McCutchen, CF (PIT)
Starlin Castro, SS (CHC)
Ryan Braun, LF (MIL)
Joey Votto, 1B (CIN)
Matt Holliday, RF (STL)
Aramis Ramirez, 3B (MIL)
Carlos Lee, DH (HOU)
Yadier Molina, C (STL)
Brandon Phillips, 2B (CIN)

Rotation

Chris Carpenter, STL (if healthy)
Yovani Gallardo, MIL
Adam Wainwright, STL

Bullpen

Joel Hanrahan, PIT
John Axford, MIL

Alden

And the man protecting Pujols is …

That’s the question. One of the biggest questions the Angels will face heading into the 2012 season. There sure seem to be a lot of candidates for that cleanup spot behind Albert Pujols, and, well, that’s the problem. Because there isn’t really one candidate who sticks out as that legit middle-of-the-order threat that will ensure Pujols gets pitches to hit.

In St. Louis, Pujols, of course, had Matt Holliday, who averaged a .319 clip with 28 homers and 104 RBIs the last six years. Even with Holliday batting behind him the last two seasons, Pujols drew 164 walks (11th most in the Majors) and was intentionally walked 53 times (third-most in the Majors in that span). Imagine how many times he’ll walk as a member of the Angels if he doesn’t have a productive cleanup hitter behind him.

Mike Scioscia will try to ensure that’s not the case.

So he’ll have to pick the right man out of these candidates …

Mark Trumbo: This would seem to be the most logical fit. Trumbo basically came out of nowhere last season to put up solid power numbers, with 29 homers and 87 RBIs. But the batting average (.254) and OPS (.768) weren’t particularly good — though that OPS did rise to .861 when hitting with runners in scoring position. Is Trumbo, turning 26 in January, ready to be the man protecting baseball’s best hitter in his second year in the Majors? We’ll see. First, the Angels have to find him a position.

Kendrys Morales: In an ideal world, Morales would return to his 2009 form and — as basically the only one who can bring power from the left side of the plate — would be the man batting behind Pujols. But, right now, that’s a pipe dream. Morales hasn’t been on the field since he broke his left ankle on May 29, 2010, and will have to prove he can run at full speed in Spring Training — never mind be able to produce at an All-Star level throughout the season. The Angels, at least, kept their options open with Morales and tendered him a contract prior to the deadline.

Torii Hunter: Hunter hit fourth more than any other Angels player in 2011, batting .267 with 17 homers and 60 RBIs in 96 games at the cleanup spot (a solid sample size of 367 at-bats). But Hunter, of course, isn’t the player he used to be. His .765 OPS this past season was his lowest since 2003, and he’ll be entering his age-37 — and perhaps final — season. One positive: Hunter is a career .280 hitter with runners in scoring position.

Vernon Wells: Well, his contract — one that will pay him $21 million for each of the next three seasons — certainly suggests that he should be the Angels’ cleanup hitter. His 2011 numbers, however, certainly do not. Wells managed to hit 25 homers and drive in 66 runs, but his slash line of .218/.248/.412 was flat-out horrific. Wells previously said he got away from himself, saying: “I was trying to hit the ball 500 feet, when you don’t have to do that. I never thought of myself as a home run hitter, but I got caught up in home runs.” If he can revert to even the player of 2010 — one who batted .273 with 31 homers and 88 RBIs — maybe there’s a very slight chance of him batting fourth.

Bobby Abreu: The bigger question, of course, is whether he’ll even be an Angel in 2012. Abreu may be the odd-man out with Pujols in the mix, though his $9 million salary may be tough to move without eating up some money. Abreu has barely ever hit fourth, even when he was at his prime, so there’s little reason to believe he’d be deemed even a part-time cleanup hitter with the 2012 Halos. Two positives: He hits left-handed, and he still works the count as good as anybody. Two bigger negatives: He turns 38 in March, and he hit eight home runs with a .717 OPS last season.

Alden 

Too early for MLB power rankings? …

I don’t think so. 
All the big free agents — minus Rafael Soriano — have signed, and it seems every team is pretty much set for the start of Spring Training. It has been an amazingly surprising offseason, with Jayson Werth signing with the Nationals, Cliff Lee going to Philly, Carl Crawford now with Boston, the Angels missing out on everyone, the Yankees staying quiet, and Dan Uggla getting the kind of money I never thought he would land. 
That means a lot has changed since the end of the 2010 season. 
So, let’s get to it … 
* 2010 records are listed in parenthesis

A-Gonz.jpg1. Boston Red Sox (89-73):
The Red Sox have the best lineup in baseball after adding Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez (pictured right, by The Associated Press), they have a very good bullpen after key offseason additions, and their rotation is very deep. But they’ll have to stay healthy — something that didn’t happen last year. 

2. Philadelphia Phillies (97-65; lost in NLCS): The old saying says, “You’re only as good as your next day’s pitcher.” If that’s the case, put the Phillies in the World Series right now. Lee, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels is arguable the best rotation foursome in baseball history. And their offense is still scary. But the bullpen, as usual, is a question mark. 

3. San Francisco Giants (92-70; won WS): They’re the defending champs, and their pitching staff is as good or better than anybody’s in baseball. But can their spare-parts offense carry them deep like it did last year? Hard to believe they can repeat without a more-consistent bat. 

4. Texas Rangers (90-72; lost in WS): Not being able to get Lee hurts, especially when considering pretty much everybody in that rotation outperformed last year. But their starting staff is still solid, their bullpen is very good and, after the addition of Adrian Beltre, they have one of the best offenses in baseball. 


5. Atlanta Braves (91-71; lost in NLDS)
Filling the big shoes of Bobby Cox is a whole lot easier when inheriting a team like this one. Fredi Gonzalez has a dynamic lineup, especially with the addition of Uggla – though they’ll regret that extension — plus a solid rotation and a really good bullpen.  

6. St. Louis Cardinals (86-76): I expected the Cards to be a lot better than they were last year, and I don’t expect them to disappoint again this year. Lance Berkman could end up being a liability in right field, but if healthy, he can give them a big middle-of-the-order bat. Regardless, two dynamic duos — Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday, and Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright — should lead to title contention.  

7. Milwaukee Brewers (77-85):
It took a major toll on the farm system, but the additions of Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum give the Brew Crew one of the best 1-thru-5 rotations in baseball. And Prince Fielder is still there. The Brewers will be legitimate title contenders.   

8. Colorado Rockies (83-79)
The Rockies have a bright future with Troy TulowitzkiCarlos Gonzalez and possibly Ubaldo Jimenez – if he agrees to an extension after the 2011 season — locked up. Their present looks very good, too. They have great depth, a solid rotation and a good lineup. Lots to be excited about in the Mile High City.

9. Chicago White Sox (88-74)
Looks like the South Siders are going for it all this year after signing Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko – or perhaps they’re setting it up so that Ozzie Guillen is the main culprit if they don’t win it all in 2011. Regardless, they have a power-packed offense and some nice arms. It’s up to Ozzie to bring it all together.  

10. New York Yankees (95-67; lost in ALCS)The Yankees have issues, yes — they’re aging, they have holes in the rotation and the bullpen is spotty. But they’re still the Yankees. And as long as Alex RodriguezDerek JeterRobinson CanoMark TeixeiraCC Sabathia and Mariano Rivera are there, they’re a major threat.  

11. Cincinnati Reds (91-71; lost in NLDS): The Reds were a surprise team last year, but I don’t think they did enough this offseason to stay on top. Their pitching staff is still deep and talented, but they needed to make bigger moves this offseason — mostly on offense — to take the next step, especially when considering how much better the teams in their division got. 


12. Detroit Tigers (81-81): Victor Martinez and Joaquin Benoit were big pickups, and the Tigers will compete in the American League Central all the way through. But it’s a tough division.  

13. Minnesota Twins (94-68; lost in ALDS)
The Twins always seem to find a way, and they’ll be fine again if they resign Carl Pavano and Jim Thome (as expected). A healthy Justin Morneau will be huge, too. But their bullpen took a major hit, and while the White Sox and Tigers got better, they really didn’t. 


14. Oakland Athletics (81-81):
This is my surprise team of the year. Billy Beane has established a phenomenal young pitching staff and a great defensive team. If only they could’ve acquired a couple of the big bats they needed. (I give their stadium a lot of the blame for that.)  

15. Chicago Cubs (75-87)
The Cubs sure look like they’re going for it by trading for Matt Garza, signing Kerry Wood to a two-year deal and giving Carlos Pena $10 million. On paper, they look good. But that seems to be the case a lot in the Windy City, and somehow it never comes to fruition. Why should I believe otherwise now?  

16. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (80-82): It has been a very disappointing
offseason for Angels general manager Arte Moreno, who lost out on Crawford and Beltre despite badly needing offensive help. They have potential in their rotation and a good bullpen that will be great if they get Soriano. But it seems they took a step back this offseason.  

17. Los Angeles Dodgers (80-82):
The Dodgers still have pieces in that lineup that can do some things, as well as a deep rotation. Don Mattingly will keep them relevant in his first year on the job. 

18. San Diego Padres (90-72):
This was the kind of reality Padres faithful expected, even after a surprising 2010 season that should’ve led to a playoff berth. No Gonzalez, and Heath Bell is a very likely Trade Deadline chip. But they still have a great pitching staff and a very good defensive team. I just don’t know where their offense will come from.  

19. Tampa Bay Rays (96-66; lost in ALDS): It’s a different Rays team now, with no Crawford, Soriano, Benoit, Pena or Garza. But that’s a savvy front office, and their array of young players give them a great future once again. But it’s a retooling year in Tampa Bay. And they won’t be as relevant in the AL East as they have been.  

20. Florida Marlins (80-82): The Marlins needed bullpen help, a catcher and another arm for the rotation this offseason and got all of that. They also have a great bunch of young position players and two franchise-type guys in Hanley Ramirez and Josh Johnson. But it looks like another .500 year in South Florida. Nothing more, nothing less.  

21. New York Mets (79-83): The Mets have toiled in obscurity this offseason, and maybe that’s a good thing. This is a year about finding out their identity and improving for the future — not competing.  

22. Washington Nationals (69-93): Mike Rizzo lost out on Lee, and he overpaid enormously for Werth. But they vastly improved their defense (with Werth and Adam LaRoche), have a nice lineup and boast a few nice, young pitching arms. D.C. is still on its way to becoming a place where free agents will actually want to be at some point.  

23. Baltimore Orioles (66-96): O’s look to have a pretty impressive lineup, but they need a lot more pitching — especially in the bullpen — to compete in baseball’s toughest division.  

24. Toronto Blue Jays (85-77): They’re another team that had its bullpen get completely stripped, and I don’t expect Jose Bautista and Vernon Wells to equal their 2010 season and keep them competitive. Not a bad rotation, though, and Alex Anthopoulos has made some nice forward-thinking moves thus far. 

25. Houston Astros (76-86): Brad Mills led the Astros to an impressive second half last year, but they have a long, long way to go.  

26. Seattle Mariners (61-101): The M’s were a big disappointment last year, and they will struggle once again in 2011. 

27. Arizona Diamondbacks (65-97): Kevin Towers has gone to work on retooling that dreadful bullpen, but there’s a lot more work to be done in Arizona than that.  

28. Cleveland Indians (69-93): Indians are still waiting for the young players they got back from trading two Cy Young Award winners (Sabathia and Lee) to come through. Until that happens, they’ll go nowhere. 

29. Kansas City Royals (67-95): With the pieces they have in their farm system and in the big leagues, the Royals seem set up to be a competitive team as soon as 2012. But not in 2011. 

30. Pittsburgh Pirates (57-105): The Pirates have issues. Their Major League roster is unimpressive, and their farm system isn’t great. All they can hope to do is avoid another 100-loss season.  

– Alden Gonzalez

6 Divisions in 6 Days: NL Central

With this being the final week of Spring Training (crazy, right?), I figured it’d be justified to take a look at all 30 clubs and examine where they stand, what they need and where it looks like they’ll finish heading into the 2010 season. So, leading up to Opening Night between the Red Sox and Yankees, I’ll touch on one of the six divisions each day Monday-Saturday. Today, Day 4, we look at the National League Central …


Cardinals: They will enter the season without a big lefty bat off the bench. That starting rotation is shaky 3-5. I’m having trouble identifying a true setup man in that bullpen. And I don’t know how much I trust Ryan Franklin to do it all over again as the closer. But baseball can be a simple game sometimes, so I’m not going to complicate the Cardinals’ situation. They have arguably the best 1-2 combination at the top of the rotation with Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright, and arguably the best 3-4 combination in the middle of the lineup in Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday. Questions answered. The Cardinals are the best team in the division. It’s not just because of that, though. They have a great manager in Tony La Russa, and they have some nice pieces around those four studs. All those other problems, they can be addressed through in-season trades, as general manager John Mozeliak has proven he’s capable of pulling off (see: Holliday). La Russa admitted Thursday his club is a little thin heading into the season — especially with some of their Spring Training injuries — but they’ve been “thin” before and won. This year should be no different. 

holliday-pujols.jpg
Cubs: Lou Piniella basically has one more shot to turn those lovable Cubbies into champions. Can he do it? I don’t think so. I know last year’s team was severely hurt, but I just don’t see enough on that club to be able to compete in this division. Main power threats are Aramis Ramirez, Derrek Lee and an Alfonso Soriano who could barely bend over anymore? Rotation aces are Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lilly and Ryan Dempster? Closer is Carlos Marmol? I just don’t see enough. There’s a lot of question marks among those names. If healthy, though, I do think they’ll stay in contention, mainly for the Wild Card, and I like the fact they essentially swapped Milton Bradley for Marlon Byrd. But Soriano’s contract — he’s got $18 million coming annually through 2014 — is eating away at them, and they’re relying on too many unproven and/or volatile guys for me to be a believer. Maybe year 103 is the lucky one, Cubs fans. 

Brewers: I don’t feel like they have enough to be legitimate factors, but I sure like this team. They’ll be fun to watch, and it isn’t just because of their choreographed celebrations after Prince Fielder home runs (though that of course plays a factor). Fielder and Ryan Braun is one of the best middle-of-the-order combinations in baseball, and one nobody really ever talks about. And I like that rotation. Sure, they overpaid for Randy Wolf (proud owner of a three-year, $29.75 million contract). But you have to overpay in that market to get arms like that. Wolf, along with Yovani Gallardo, Doug Davis, Dave Bush and Manny Parra make this a more-than-formidable bunch. The back end of that bullpen is pretty set with LaTroy Hawkins and Trevor Hoffman. And keep your eyes on new shortstop Alcides Escobar and new center fielder Carlos Gomez. It amazes me how general manager Doug Melvin can keep fielding competitive teams while facing the elements each offseason. Nice (though not great) team. 

Reds: Many are picking the Reds to be the surprise team of baseball, and I can see why. But I don’t think they have enough to get past the Cardinals in this division. Still, that starting rotation is nice with Aaron Harang, Bronson Arroyo, Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey. The bullpen isn’t bad, either, with guys like Arthur RhodesFrancisco Cordero and Nick Masset in the back end. There are questions in that starting lineup, though. Scott Rolen and Orlando Cabrera will have to turn back the clock, Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips need to keep producing, Jay Bruce needs ;to be better, and somebody needs to step up and become a reliable leadoff man. That’s too many things that have to go right. Aroldis Chapman will eventually play a big factor in that starting rotation — or maybe the bullpen? — but he needs more time. 

Astros: In every sense of the word, the Astros are your run-of-the-mill average ballclub. Bullpen? Average. Starting rotation? Average. Offense? Average. Defense? Average. I like the hiring of Brad Mills, who will run a tighter ship while being more well-liked than Cecil Cooper (it’s hard not to be, frankly), and I’ve already seen first-hand the impact new pitching coach Brad Arnsberg has had on the staff. The additions of Brett Myers, Matt Lindstrom, Brandon Lyon and Pedro Feliz were fine, but nothing that’s going to put this team over the top. I love Ed Wade, but I think the Astros are going to have to pick a direction soon. Are they going to push all their chips to the middle of the table and push to be a World Series contender now? Or are they a club that will look to build up its farm system to really contend down the line? Right now, it seems they’re stuck in the middle, and that will reflect on their record. 81-81 finish? Probably a good gauge. 

Pirates: It goes without saying that the Pirates will struggle. They did a nice job last season of ridding themselves of salary and getting some nice pieces in return before the Trade Deadline, as they strive to make the playoffs for the first time since 1992. (Wow, has it really been that long?) They have a lot of work to do before they’re back on top, though. It is going to be fun to watch Andrew McCutchen for a full season, and Garrett Jones could be poised for a big year. But I don’t know about Jeff Clement at first base and Ryan Doumit catching, nobody else in that lineup really sticks out at me, and the rotation and bullpen is very weak. Keep your eyes peeled on two prospects, though: third baseman Pedro Alvarez and catcher Tony Sanchez

– Alden Gonzalez

Adjusting to the big leagues is tough enough …

JUPITER, Fla. — Meet Cardinals prospect Jon Jay …

DSC01422.jpg… I remember watching him when he manned the outfield for the University of Miami, and let me tell you this: The guy can hit. He’s not a big home-run threat (more like a No. 2-type hitter), but in his four years in the Minor Leagues, he’s batted a pretty solid .298 with a .363 on-base percentage — though his slugging percentage was just .425. Now, he comes into camp in the mix for the job as the Cardinals’ lefty hitter off the bench.
St. Louis’ outfield, of course, is a crowded one, with Matt Holliday, Colby Rasmus and Ryan Ludwick the starters. So Jay’s only shot at finally cracking a big league roster is to make the team as a pinch-hitter.
But is that the right thing to do to a kid who, in a way, is still developing and needs professional at-bats? Jay (pictured above taking live batting practice against Blake Hawksworth on Wednesday) turns 25 in March. He of course just wants to be in the Major Leagues for the first time, but would being a late-inning lefty pinch-hitter — ala veteran Matt Stairs — slow down his development? 
“There’s always room for improvement and seasoning, but that was one of the reasons I went to Venezuela this year,” he told me. “I got some more at-bats, and I was able to kind of work on my game a little bit more in different aspects. I think it was a good experience for me, just playing in front of big crowds and just playing more baseball and just going so deep into the year with that.”
Sure, but even that can’t prepare him for what would face him if he actually broke camp as a member of the 25-man roster. 
It’s hard enough to adjust from Minor League to Major League pitching. And then it’s a whole other thing to adjust from being an everyday player to sitting on the bench for an entire game, then getting up for one at-bat in a tight game and immediately seeing a mid-90s fastball. Imagine adjusting to both at once.
I spoke to veteran corner infielder Wes Helms about pinch-hitting a lot last season, and he says it’s an art — one you never perfect, and one you need to be in the big leagues a while to even get used to.
How will Jay adjust if that’s the role he plays?
“I think my routine just stays the same,” said Jay, who batted .281 with 10 homers, 54 RBIs and 20 stolen bases for Triple-A Memphis in 2009. “But obviously I’ll talk to guys that have been there before and the coaching staff. Mark McGwire has been around for a long time, and just our coaching staff has been. It’s great to have those guys to go to. 
“I pinch-hit a lot last year during Spring Training, so I got a little bit used to that. Just always being ready.”
——-
An interesting side note: Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer, who does TV work for the Orioles, made a brief appearance at Cardinals camp on Wednesday, yukking it up with manager Tony La Russa (top) and pitching coach Dave Duncan (bottom). 
La Russa called him “a legitimate Hall of Famer,” but bragged that he once broke up a no-hitter in the late innings against him — in instructional league.
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