PEORIA, Ariz. -- Kyle Lohse has lots to prove and, obviously, based on the difficulty he had finding a job and St. Louis' tepid reaction upon signing him to a cut-rate deal Thursday, expectations are low already.
Question is, can he rise even to meet those?
History says don't get too excited, Cardinals fans.
Time was when Minnesota thought the world of Lohse, but he didn't take well to coaching back then, didn't make the necessary adjustments and clashed with manager Ron Gardenhire. He couldn't win in his second chance in Cincinnati, then got enough run support in Philadelphia last season to help the Phillies win the NL East title.
He sought a multi-year contract in the neighborhood of Carlos Silva (four years, $48 million with Seattle over the winter) and even in a game flush with cash right now, nobody was silly enough to award that kind of charity to a guy whose ERA usually is higher than the league average.
"If it were a perfect world, we wouldn't have had to go down this path," St. Louis general manager John MOzeliak said. "But it's not and we're going to need someone to pitch every fifth day."
As I said, not exactly a ringing endorsement. It's like Casey Stengel's classic line one year when he didn't like any of his catching prospects. You need a catcher, Stengel explained, otherwise the ball will roll all the way to the backstop.
And you need someone to pitch every fifth day ... especially in St. Louis right now, with Matt Clement in the midst of a slow comeback, Joel Pineiro no guarantee physically and with Chris Carpenter and Mark Mulder set to start the season on the disabled list.
The best thing you can say about Lohse is that, if he lasts the season in the rotation, he'll log a lot of innings -- probably, close to 200 worth. They may not all be quality, many may be ugly, but he'll take the ball.
-- Don't be surprised if left-hander Horacio Ramirez, released by Seattle this week, eventually lands in Florida with the Marlins. They've inquired about him in the past. Cincinnati also continues to bottom-feed in the search for starting pitchers.
-- Regarding this Yankees-Tampa Bay business, yes, you can make a case that Rays youngster Elliot Johnson went into the plate too hard when he bowled over young Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli, breaking his wrist. But let's remember here that part of spring training is about young kids trying to make their way into the game, and that includes trying to impress their manager and teammates with hard-nosed play. It's unfortunate that Cervelli was seriously hurt, but the play was not the dirty play that New York manager Joe Girardi made it out to be.
Besides, wasn't Johnson playing the way Girardi insists that his teams play?
Now Shelley Duncan's spikes-up slide into second baseman Akinori Iwamura is another story. That clearly crossed the line. And regarding Duncan's explanation that he has been taught since he was young to kick the ball out of the fielder's glove in that situation, check out the pictures: Duncan's left leg is waist high toward Iwamura's right side. Only problem is, Iwamura's glove (containing the ball) is on the other side of his body. If Duncan was attempting to kick the ball out of Iwamura's glove, his aim is more off-target than the Yankees' claims that they weren't trying to retaliate.
-- Just one question regarding Billy Crystal's appearance/strikeout with the New York Yankees in Florida on Thursday: Did he pass baseball's steroids test? Or will he simply become the latest Yankee to be linked with performance-enhancing drugs?
Likes: Mel Stottlemyre healthy enough to be serving as Seattle's pitching coach. ... The Yankees sending their starting lineup to Virginia Tech, site of last spring's horrible shootings, for an exhibition game Tuesday. Class move. ... The bulletin board in Kansas City's clubhouse with the heading "Who Do YOu Love?" and photos of various Royals' families and loved ones thumb-tacked to it. ... The Pontiac Solstice convertible I was able to upgrade to for this stint in Arizona without an additional fee. ... The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report with Stephen Colbert on at 10 and 10:30 in Arizona, early enough for a tired scribe to catch some of before lights out.
Dislikes: Godspeed to former pitcher and current broadcaster Rick Sutcliffe as he battles colon cancer. Thank goodness it was caught early and it looks like he'll make a full recovery, but a few prayers certainly can't hurt.
Sunblock day? Yes, another beauty in the 70s but, alas. Word is thunderstorms are due Sunday.
Rock-n-Roll lyric of the day:
"City girls seem to find out early
"How to open doors with just a smile"
-- The Eagles, Lyin' Eyes