Tag:Tony La Russa
Posted on: April 20, 2011 1:05 pm
Edited on: April 20, 2011 1:43 pm
 

Closer watch: Franklin, Nathan, Thornton out

By C. Trent Rosecrans

John AxfordAs we're getting deeper into the first month of the season, some of the "small sample size" arguments are losing their luster and managers are getting itchy. There's no position in baseball that causes more consternation than the closer's spot -- and few are easier to change. 

On Tuesday, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said Ryan Franklin was out as his closer, joining Ozzie Guillen and Ron Gardenhire in making changes in closers already this season, a common April occurance.

Here's a look at where all the closers in baseball stand at this moment:

Out -- Ryan Franklin (Cardinals), Joe Nathan (Twins), Matt Thornton (White Sox).

We won't know who the replacement for Franklin is until it comes to a save situation (Matt Snyder took a look at who may get the call -- and I'll agree that Mitchell Boggs gets the first shot) and even then, we'll have to have a few save situations until we get there.

Matt Capps has taken over for Nathan, who is not back 100 percent from Tommy John surgery, in Minnesota.

Thornton may get the call if the White Sox get in a save situation, but Ozzie Guillen has no confidence in anybody in his bullpen and has said he just doesn't have a closer.

Hanging by a thread -- John Axford (Brewers), Sean Burnett (Nationals), Kevin Gregg (Orioles).

Axford (pictured) started his season off by blowing a save in Cincinnati and added another Monday night. He's struggled with his command this season, but the Brewers don't have too many better options.

The Nationals have gone from no closer, to Burnett back to no set closer. After Burnett blew a save on Friday, Drew Storen closed with two innings on Sunday against the Brewers. The two are expected to share the job, but Burnett's not "out" because he's still half in.

Hand wringing -- Jonathan Broxton (Dodgers), Joakim Soria (Royals), Francisco Rodriguez (Mets).

These are three marquee names, but there's plenty of worry surrounding the trio.

Soria has struggled and has a 5.59 ERA, blowing one save, while Broxton hasn't blown a save, but has given up plenty of runs. He has an ERA of 6.14 and his manager's vote of confidence.

K-Rod, well, he's got plenty of issues, including a contract with a vesting option that the Mets aren't really interested in seeing him meet. That said, it's not like he's getting a lot of chances to close out Met victories for the team with the National League's worst record.

Nobody's perfect --  Brian Fuentes (Athletics), Carlos Marmol (Cubs), Jon Rauch (Blue Jays).

Rauch has been good, converting all three of his saves this season, but the return of Frank Francisco complicates things for him in Toronto.

Solid -- Mariano Rivera (Yankees), Heath Bell (Padres), Neftali Feliz (Rangers), Huston Street (Rockies), Joel Hanrahan (Pirates), Leo Nunez (Marlins), Chris Perez (Indians), Brian Wilson (Giants), Craig Kimbrel (Braves), J.J. Putz (Diamondbacks), Jose Contreras (Phillies), Jose Valverde (Tigers).

Sure, Rivera blew a save last night. I think Joe Girardi may give him another shot.

If a save falls in a forrest -- Francisco Cordero (Reds), Jonathan Papelbon (Red Sox), Brandon Lyon (Astros), Brandon League (Marienrs), Kyle Farnsworth (Rays), Jordan Walden (Angels).

If the rest of the closers are in a "small sample size" argument right now, these guys have a "tiny sample size."

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Posted on: April 18, 2011 5:29 pm
Edited on: April 19, 2011 6:32 pm
 

Some possible options for Cardinals closer

By Matt Snyder

When Matt Kemp's ninth-inning home run cleared the center-field wall in Dodger Stadium Sunday, it marked the fourth time in five tries Cardinals closer Ryan Franklin had blown a save. Sure, it was a pretty questionable way for Tony La Russa to deal with the ninth inning -- in that he insisted on using a left-hander against Andre Ethier (who doubled) and then pitched to one of the hottest hitters in baseball with first base open -- but the blown save from Franklin has been a troubling early trend for the Cardinals.

Considering Franklin is 38, he could be in a natural regression due to age. Considering he's been awful thus far in the season, coughing up eight hits -- including three home runs -- and six earned runs in 4 2/3 innings, it's entirely possible his confidence is shot as well. That matters for all baseball players, but with a closer it's paramount. If he doesn't feel like he's going to mow down the opposition every time out, that's an issue.

Regardless of why, the combination of underperformance, age and a possible lack of confidence have forced the Cardinals to make a change. But where to turn? Let's rundown the options.

Mitchell Boggs - In the very small sample we've had thus far, he's been the best pitcher in the St. Louis bullpen. Boggs has a 2.00 ERA and 0.67 WHIP in nine innings. Even more importantly, he's struck out 12 hitters while only walking three. On the flip-side, his history suggests the strikeout rate comes down a bit and he's not been used in as many high-leverage situations as some of the other guys. But, hey, you gotta start sometime. Can't figure out if he's a realistic option without trying it.

Miguel Batista - He does have 41 career saves, but the lion's share of those came his one season as a full-time closer -- when he saved 31 games back in 2005. Still, it's experience in the role, and he's thrown the ball very well this season -- 1.29 ERA in seven innings. The downside is that he's 40 and his rate stats (like six hits in seven innings) suggest he's going to start allowing runs sometime soon.

Trever Miller - He's a lefty, so there's no way La Russa would give up one of his most beloved pastimes -- playing matchups with his bullpen. Therefore, Miller's not an option.

Jason Motte - The 28-year-old righty fits the part, as he throws hard and struck out more than a batter per inning last season. He had a 2.24 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in 52 1/3 innings. This season, he's thrown seven innings and given up just two earned runs (2.57 ERA). He has walked too many and struck out too few, but it's a small sample. I'd give him a shot.

La Russa has now removed Franklin, even if it's only temporary. If they do, Motte seems the best-suited candidate, while they should probably keep Boggs as a put-out-the-fire guy. However, most speculation from across the writing community seems to think Boggs will get the shot. We'll find out whenever the Cards get another save chance.

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Posted on: April 11, 2011 10:29 am
Edited on: April 18, 2011 11:54 am
 

Pepper: No change in the Cards at closer

Ryan FranklinBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Three out of four isn't bad. Well, unless you're a closer and you've blown three of four save chances.

The only thing worse than having a closer that can't close is the manager having zero confidence in anybody else in the bullpen. 

When St. Louis manager Tony La Russa was asked if he was considering changing his closer from Ryan Franklin, he answered, "who's better?"

"Somebody's got to come up with somebody that's better on our club right now," La Russa told MLB.com's Matthew Leach. "The fact is that right now those young guys aren't better."

The young guys are Mitchell Boggs and Jason Motte, both of whom are being groomed to take over for Franklin.

In fairness to Franklin, errors by Albert Pujols and Colby Rasmus with two outs in the ninth led to two victories by the Giants on Friday and Saturday, respectively. However, the way the Cardinals are constructed, defense will not be bailing out too many pitchers this season, and Pujols and Rasmus are two of the teams' better defenders.

Sunday the Cardinals found a way to avoid a closer breakdown -- by giving its pitchers a five-run lead to close out. They were successful, salvaging the series against the Giants with a 6-1 get-away day win in San Francisco.

RED-HOT Rangers -- Jeff Wilson of the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram joins Lauren Shehadi to talk about the Rangers' great start.

CABRERA HELPING CABRERA -- The influence of veteran Orlando Cabrera has already started paying off for the Indians. During spring, Cabrera noticed Asdrubal Cabrera's approach in batting practice was that of a slugger, not a shortstop. He told him to try that in a game sometime. During the Indians' seven-game winning streak, Asdrubal Cabrera is hitting .316 with three homers and nine RBI. Asdrubal Cabrera had three homers all of last season. [MLB.com]

SIX-MAN ROTATION? -- The White Sox may look at a six-man rotation when Jake Peavy returns because of the performance of Phil Humber, at least on a short-term basis. [Chicago Tribune]

NICE MATCHUP -- For just the 21st time in history, two authors of perfect games will start against each other tonight, as Oakland's Dallas Braden faces Chicago's Mark Buehrle.

DUNN TAKE BP -- White Sox slugger Adam Dunn took batting practice before Sunday's game against the Rays and could return to the team's lineup as soon as today.

"It was good to get out of solitary confinement and hang out with the general population, you know what I mean," Dunn told the Chicago Tribune's Dave van Dyck.

However, Dunn said he was done making predictions about when he'd return when asked if he could play today against Oakland.

TINKERING -- Derek Jeter isn't the only Yankee messing with his mechanics -- right-hander Phil Hughes tinkered with his motion during his bullpen session on Sunday. Hughes is attempting to use more of the bottom half of his body in his delivery. [New York Times]

ROUSING THE TROOPS -- Rays manager Joe Maddon tried to eject all four umpires in Sunday's 6-1 loss to the White Sox. [St. Petersburg Times]

Enjoy this video while it lasts (why MLB.com won't allow embedded videos, I just don't know...)

LAROCHE CONFIDENT HE'LL BE BACK SOON -- Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche said he doesn't expect to miss any time after leaving Sunday's game with a strained left groin. LaRoche left in the 11th inning against the Mets, but said today's day off for the Nationals would give him ample healing time. [MASNSports.com]

ZIMMERMAN UNSURE OF RETURN -- Unlike his teammate LaRoche, Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman is unsure when he'll return from his strained abdominal muscle. Zimmerman will be re-evaluated on Tuesday following the off day. [Washington Post]

YOUNG UNHAPPY -- Mets right-hander Chris Young wasn't perfect on Sunday and  that wasn't good enough for him or the Mets. In his first seven-inning outing in nearly two years, Young allowed just one hit and two walks, and the walk came back to hurt him, accounting for the lone run he gave up to the Nationals. After he left the game, Washington tied the game in the eighth inning before winning it in the 11th. Young picked up a no-decision, but is 1-0 with a 1.46 ERA in two starts for the Mets this season.  [ESPNNewYork.com]

BACK-TO-BACK -- Mark Prior pitched on back-to-back days for the Class A Tampa Yankees on Saturday and Sunday as he makes the transition from starter to reliever in an attempt to return to the majors for the first time since 2006. Prior's fastball reached 91 on both days. [MLB.com]

NO BIG DEAL -- Cubs pitching coach Mark Riggins downplayed conflicting statements from pitcher Matt Garza and manager Mike Quade following Garza's loss to the Brewers on Saturday. [Chicago Sun-Times]

NO REPLICAS FOR FANS -- The Giants will not make replica World Series rings available to fans, but you can by commemorative jewelry from the team. So, you know, if you've outgrown your class ring, you can get a ring that's symbolic of an achievement you had absolutely zero to do with earning yourself. But, you know, if you have $3,570 dollars just lying around with nothing else to really do with it, why not? It's not like there are charities that could use it more than you can use a 14K white gold ring with diamonds and your name on it that will repel women. Seriously, just buy one of the cool hats with the gold SF the team wore the other day. [San Francisco Chronicle]

NEW BOX -- The fine folks over at FanGraphs have unveiled their new boxscore. I swear there are some stats that aren't real in there just to see if you're paying attention. Seriously, there's just about everything you'd ever want in this box, and going through one could take longer than actually watching the game. And I mean that in the most awesome way possible. [FanGraphs.com]

OLD GLOVES -- A cool graphic on the evolution of the baseball glove, or at least Spalding's gloves (and a bonus Wilson one, even though I've always been a Rawlings guy). [UniWatchBlog]

NICE DAY AT THE PARK -- What's better than a beautiful Sunday at the ballpark? Try a day at the park followed by a post-game concert by the Avett Brothers. The band performed at Turner Field yesterday following the Phillies' 3-0 victory. My sisters-in-law and other friends went, plus one of my sisters-in-law met Kevin Gillespie in the beer line -- not a bad day.

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Posted on: April 9, 2011 12:50 pm
 

Pepper: Appreciating Manny's talent

Ramirez

By Evan Brunell

MORE MANNY: Stop me if you've heard this before, but Joe Posnanski has written a great story. And as you may have gathered by now, it's about Manny Ramirez. Here's Poz:

In my own romantic view of baseball and the world, I tended to see Manny as baseball’s Mozart — an often vile personality who did one thing so beautifully that you could not turn away. ... [I]t was clear that these tough old baseball men who had no respect at all for the way Ramirez treated the game were almost absurdly awed by his talent. They talked of games he would play with pitchers during spring training to set them up later in the year. They talked of adjustments he would make pitch-to-pitch that were so remarkable they could only compare it to chess grandmasters. Bill James ... insisted that Manny Ramirez would purposely get into 3-2 counts with a runner on first so that the runner would be on the move with the pitch and could then score on the double MannyBManny planned to hit.

There's no question that Manny's legacy is stained beyond repair. He's effectively failed three drug tests now, and we're all left to wonder just how long this has been going on. But despite steroids, Manny was a revelation. After all, how many people took steroids to get ahead and how many turned out like Manny? While there's no excuse for Ramirez's actions, it's always been clear that he had an incredible, uncanny ability to hit, both mentally and physically. Those talents come along once in a generation and while Ramirez deserves every ounce of blame for sullying his magical talent, you can't help but marvel at what he's done in the game. (Sports Illustrated)

OWNERS NARROWED: The Mets have narrowed their search for a new minority owner to eight candidates. "They are very happy with the numbers they're seeing. There's a range - the low end is marginally acceptable and the high end is very acceptable," a source said of the Wilpons, who are expected to bring in the new owner by July. (New York Daily News)

ROTATION QUESTIONS: Shaun Marcum seems as if he will be able to make his next start on Tuesday, so Marco Estrada appears ticketed for the bullpen. (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

LOVING BASEBALL: The president of Harvard University takes to the newspaper pages to write about why she loves baseball. (Philly.com)

UP, UP AND AWAY: For the first time in his life, Brandon Belt's father stepped onto a plane, all to watch his son play a game in San Francisco. Darrell and wife live in Texas. (San Jose Mercury News)

PLANE SCARE: Tony La Russa and four players were flying to a charity event for La Russa when their plane's cabin failed to pressurize. The plane returned to the airport and did not climb above 10,000 feet. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

ESCOBAR IMPROVING: Yunel Escobar is taking encouraging steps back from a mild concussion suffered Wednesday. He could be back in the lineup as early as Sunday, but new concussion guidelines means he must undergo a final round of testing Saturday before he can take the field. (MLB.com)

RAMOS WINS JOB: Wilson Ramos will become the full-time starting catcher in Washington as Ivan Rodriguez's role is phased back. Don't be surprised to see Pudge eventually traded. (MLB.com)

ALZHEIMER'S: No matter who you are or what you did, no one deserves the agony of Alzheimer's. Yet, that's what Stan Musial is battling as a new biography of Stan the Man details. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

NO MORE HAT FOR LONGORIA: The New Era commercial with Evan Longoria losing his hat was rather popular last season, but this year New Era is going forward with Alec Baldwin from 30 Rock and John Krasinski from The Office, creating another solid commercial. (Big League Stew)

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Posted on: April 8, 2011 7:36 pm
 

Holliday could return this weekend

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Matt HollidayCardinals left fielder Matt Holliday hopes to return to the lineup Sunday in San Francisco, he told MLB.com's Matthew Leach.

"I don't think that's a stretch," Holliday said Friday after going through his first full workout since undergoing an appendectomy on April 1. "I think Sunday's a definitely a possibility, and possibly even tomorrow depending on [how things go]. I can't say without talking to Greg [Hauch, the team's head trainer], but in my mind, that's definitely a possibility."

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa wasn't quite as optimistic.

"I think that's probably a push," La Russa said. "I'm not saying he wouldn't, because he was in such great shape when he got hurt and we're anxious to get him back, but that seems like a push. But if they give him the green light and he says he's ready to go …"

Holliday is not on the tema's 15-day disabled list, so he can return anytime he's ready.

Meanwhile, Adam Dunn has said he wants to be back as soon as possible, but manager Ozzie Guillen doesn't expect him back before Monday, five days after undergoing an emergency appendectomy. 

Dunn could possibly pinch-hit, but Guillen doesn't want to do that, either.

"I'd rather lose a game than lose a guy for another month," Guillen told reporters, including the Chicago Tribune's Dave van Dyck. "If I have to pinch-hit Adam Dunn with the game on the line, I'd rather lose the game than have him hurt himself or lose him for we don't know how long."

Dunn has said he's a fast healer and doesn't expect to be out long. The White Sox start a three-game series with the Rays tonight before hosting the Athletics for three starting Monday. Chicago has an open day on Thursday and then three more home games against the Angels before leaving on a 11-game road trip starting April 18.

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Posted on: April 7, 2011 10:15 am
Edited on: April 7, 2011 10:17 am
 

Pepper: Concussion concern

Yunel Escobar
By C. Trent Rosecrans

Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar may be the test case for Major League Baseball's new concussion guidelines after leaving Wednesday night's game against the A's following a collision with Oakland third baseman Adam LaRoche.

Escobar stayed in the game after he ran into LaRoche's knee on a head-first slide into third following a fifth-inning triple. After fielding his position in the sixth, Escobar was taken out of the game because of dizziness. He was taken to a hospital for testing and stayed overnight.

Escobar convinced manager John Farrell to keep him in the game after the incident and even wanted to stay after his half-inning in the field. Still, he was at shortstop jumping up and down and shaking his head.

Farrell said the team was waiting to see how he reacted and didn't like what they saw. Diagnosing a concussion is difficult, especially when an athlete is conditioned to play through pain, so managers need to be more proactive when a head injury occurs. Farrell acted and luckily it wasn't too late.

It won't be a surprise if Escobar is the first player to wind up on the seven-day DL for concussions. MLB has stepped up to the plate in giving teams ways to properly treat concussions, now it's time for the teams to follow through and use them. [Globe and Mail]

IS TODAY THE DAY? -- Can the Red Sox actually win a game? CBSSports.com senior writer Danny Knobler joins Lauren Shehadi to discuss it.

FIRST PITCH WORTH SEEING -- The White Sox's home opener today and throwing out the first pitch will be Minnie Minoso. Minoso is anywhere from 85-91 and one of the great ambassadors of baseball. We used Baseball-Reference.com's player oracle linking franchise legends to current players and I swear a good third of them that I did included Minoso, who played his first big-league game in 1949 and his last in 1980 (although, he did manage just five games after 1964, appearing in three games in 1976 and two in 1980 in a  publicity stunt). [Chicago Tribune]

LA RUSSA UPSET -- Cardinals manager Tony La Russa has found an easy scapegoat for his team's 2-4 start, the media. You'll never lose in a public opinion poll when you place yourself against the fourth estate. Baseball's king of deflection is at it early this season. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

GOOD SOLDIER -- Mariners second baseman Jack Wilson said he was in agreement with manager Eric Wedge's decision to pull him after two errors on Wednesday. The question is, with his contract up at the end of the season, could Wilson be traded away before the season ends to a team that needs a shortstop (St. Louis, Milwaukee, Houston?), especially with Dustin Ackley waiting to take over at second base. [Seattle Times]

BOO AWAY -- Phillies manager Charlie Manuel understands why fans booed Cole Hamels on Tuesday -- it is Philly after all. [Philly.com]

CAREER NUMBERS -- Albert Pujols and Lance Berkman have been in the National League Central long enough to have played nearly a season's worth of games against each team. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Derrick Goold breaks down Pujols' and Berkman's 'seasons' against NL Central opponents. The conclusion? Those two are pretty good -- and the Reds don't want to see either. Pujols' best numbers -- .372/.456/.695 with 45 HR and 134 RBI in 157 games -- are against the Pirates, and the Reds are in second place (159 games, 43 HR, 133 RBI, .356/.440/.656). Berkman's best are against the Reds, hitting 49 HR, 137 RBI and .318/.438/.678 in 152 games against Cincinnati.

SMALL BALL -- For just the second time in the nine-year history of Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, there were two straight games without a homer on Tuesday and Wednesday. The only other time that happened was Aug. 6-7, 2005 against the Marlins. That hasn't hurt the Reds, who scored 20 runs in those two games. The Reds have scored 43 runs through the first five games, the second-best mark in their history. In 1976, Cincinnati had 44 runs through five games. That team, of course, repeated as World Series champions. The team is also 5-0 for the fifth time in history -- twice winning the World Series after such a start (1919, 1990).

JUDGE ME NOT BY MY SIZE -- The Royals' Tim Collins and the Braves' Craig Kimbrel are proving you don't need to be tall to throw hard. [MLB.com]

RATINGS UP -- The Nationals' TV ratings for their opening series against the Braves were up nearly 100 percent. [D.C. Sports Bog]

CABRERA HITS 250 -- Miguel Cabrera hit his 250th career home run on Wednesday and Tiger manager Jim Leyland said he was sure his slugger would have "250 more." It seems likely if Cabrera stays on the field. [MLive.com]

SIPP STEPS UP -- Tony Sipp has emerged as the Indians' setup man. [Akron Beacon Journal]

OPENING DAY -- Today's opening day for the minor leagues. The game to watch is in Rome, Ga., where Bryce Harper will make his professional debut for the Class A Hagerstown Suns. [Rome News-Tribune]

HALL OF FAME PIG -- Ryne Sandberg, the new manager of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs is comfortable in his new job with the Phillies' Triple-A affiliate. [Allentown Morning-Call]

RALLY CAP -- The Altoona Curve is the first professional team to feature a reversible cap with a design in the lining to make a rally cap. The inside features a lining depicting the team's "rally mascot" Al Tuna. It's a pair of googly eyes, representing the head of the fish mascot. [MiLB.com]

MAKE IT A DOUBLE -- The Red Sox are getting closer to being able to selling mixed drinks at Fenway Park after reaching an agreement with Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino and other interest groups. This comes just in time, as the Red Sox are winless. [Boston Globe]

TEIXEIRA LAUNCHES DREAM TEAM -- Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira donated $1 million to the Harlem RBI program. [MLB..com]

SHEPARD DIES -- Larry Shepard, the former Pirates manager and pitching coach for the Big Red Machine, died on Tuesday. He was 92. Shepard managed the Pirates in 1968 and 1969 and was the Reds' pitching coach from 1970-78. He also served as the pitching coach for the Phillies and Giants. [Associated Press]

RETURN TO MONTREAL -- The Blue Jays are considering playing exhibition games in Montreal and other Canadian cities. [MLB.com]

A REAL CLASSIC -- "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" will be preserved at the Library of Congress along with 24 other recordings chosen for their cultural significance. [Associated Press]

10 YEARS OF PNC -- One of the best ballparks in Major League Baseball turns 10 this year, as the Pirates start their home opener on a roll, winner of their first two series. Even 10 years old, the $270 million stadium is still one of the best in baseball, even if its tenants haven't been. [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review]

MLB.COM Q&A -- The boss over at MLB.com talks about technology and baseball [All Things Digital]

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Posted on: March 21, 2011 5:32 pm
Edited on: March 21, 2011 7:04 pm
 

Cardinals, Nats have words

Livan Hernandez

UPDATED 6:58 p.m.

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Benches cleared Monday in the Cardinals-Nationals game, but they may have emptied at the wrong time.

The two teams met on the field -- with the managers, Jim Riggleman and Tony La Russa yelling each other -- in the seventh inning after Cardinals reliever, and former National, Miguel Batista hit Ian Desmond.

That got the Nationals' Nyjer Morgan's ire, and the two teams met in the middle of the field for a typical baseball millabout.

However, it was the third time a player had been hit in the game.

Chris Carpenter hit Laynce Nix with a fastball in the fifth inning and then the Nationals' Livan Hernandez hit Colby Rasmus.

While Carpenter denied hitting Nix on purpose -- "Not at all," Nix told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "It was either cutting or moving back over the plate."

Of course, it may be noted that Carpenter only had trouble locating after Morgan bumped into Albert Pujols when running into first base that inning and a trainer had to be called onto the field.

Nix felt like he was hit on purpose.

"There's no question about that," Nix told reporters, including the Washington Post. "As for why, I think you have to ask them."

Although it's unlikely Bud Selig and Joe Torre will agree with me, I find it refreshing that Hernandez went ahead and said he hit Rasmus on purpose. He told MLB.com's Bill Ladson he hit meant to hit Rasmus. We all know it's part of the game and it happens, it's actually nice when someone's honest about it, so kudos to Hernandez there. Here's the entire quote, thanks to MASNSports.com:

"You hit somebody on purpose and you know I'm going to hit somebody because I'm old school. I hit somebody and it's over right there. ...You got to take care of your teammates," Hernandez said. "If something happen to your teammates, you got to go and step up and do something. This is what I do. Take care of my teammates. Always."

Any admission is good for a fine and/or suspension, which is why most pitchers will just wink and smile before their denial. 

As for the hit batter who actually got people off the bench, Desmond said he didn't mind getting hit by Batista, because "Miggy throws like Miss Iowa, anyway," he told the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore (via Twitter). That, of course, is an allusion to last year when he famously said about fans booing him while starting instead of Stephen Strasburg, "Imagine, if you go there to see Miss Universe -- and you end up having Miss Iowa."

However, Hernandez wasn't happy another guy got hit.

"I hit [Rasmus] because [Carpenter] hit somebody. ... I was surprised [Desmond got hit] because you're not supposed to hit [a third] guy," Hernandez said. "That one's a problem. In the old-school baseball, and La Russa knows, if you hit somebody first, you're supposed to take the next one. That's it, it's over. Then you hit another guy again. It's not fair. That one's not real baseball."

There was bad blood between the two teams last year after Morgan ran into Cardinals catcher Bryan Anderson in August. Riggleman apologized after that game and kept Morgan out of the lineup the next day for fear of retaliation.

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Posted on: March 13, 2011 1:08 pm
 

McClellan the favorite for Cards' rotation

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Kyle McClellanKyle McClellan appears to be running away with the race for the Cardinals' fifth starter position, but it doesn't seem Tony La Russa is going to declare him -- or anyone -- the winner anytime soon.

McClellan's main competitor, rookie Lance Lynn, has struggled in his last two outings, allowing five hits and four walks in four innings.

"Just because somebody has a tough start … there's still [a competition] here," La Russa said on Saturday, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "One of the younger guys could live up to his potential earlier than they have to."

McClellan has allowed one run and five hits with four strikeouts and a walk in seven innings this spring. The 26-year-old right-hander has competed for a rotation spot each of the last two years, only to end up in the bullpen.

This time, though, McClellan said a similar move would be different.

"It would be a lot tougher to take," McClellan said.

Still, he added, "Given the situation in front of me right now, I kind of like my chances."

McClellan hasn't started regularly since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2005. He's started 51 minor league games, but nine since 2007. A ground-ball pitcher (49.7 percent groundballs , he seems well-suited to filling the Cardinals' rotation. He has four pitches and a career 4.12 xFIP. He also pitches better against left-handers than he does right-handers. Lefties have hit .214/.306/.315 against him in his career, while righties have hit .253/.318/.378. He's no Adam Wainwright, but he should be able to fill out the rotation.

Lynn made 29 starts at Triple-A Memphis last season, going 13-10 with a 4.77 ERA in 164 innings.

Others supposedly in the race -- P.J. Walters and Adam Ottavino -- have already been optioned to minor league camp.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com