Tag:Albert Pujols
Posted on: July 1, 2011 2:31 pm

Short Hops: All-Star Soria back on track (& more)

This isn't about Mariano Rivera. It's about the Royals' Joakim Soria. But as with so many other things regarding closers, it makes Old Man Rivera look even more sensational than he already is.

OK, here goes: If I were to ask you coming into this season whose save conversion rate since July 31, 2007, is second in the game to Rivera's, whom would you say?

Yes, the answer is Soria, a two-time All-Star whose 92.4 rate since that date is second among all major-league closers to Rivera's 92.9.

Now, here's just one more piece of evidence that Rivera is superhuman: In late May, Soria suddenly fell into a hole and blew five of his first 12 save opportunities. It got so bad that after he blew consecutive save opportunities in late May, he admirably went to manager Ned Yost and essentially removed himself from the role. Something that in all of these years Rivera has never had to do.

Yost handled the situation superbly: He gave Soria a few days off to clear out his mind, eased him back into non-save situations in which he could pitch two innings at a time (to work on his fastball command) and then plugged Soria back into the ninth in early June.

The results, again, have been spectacular: Soria has worked 12 shutout innings in his past 10 games and is six-for-six in save opportunities, while holding opponents to an .098 batting average (4 for 41).

"It was not a big change at all," Soria says. "It was just a mind-set, getting my confidence back. Mechanics-wise, there was nothing to change. I looked at video, and I'm not doing anything different."

Soria isn't a closer with overpowering stuff, nor does he have one lethal weapon like Rivera's cutter. Instead, he throws all of his pitches -- fastball, curve, slider and change. Because he depends on location, problems can arise if he goes four or five days between outings.

"He's a command-guy closer," Yost says. "Command guys rebound so much better from that than stuff guys do.

"I've never had stuff guys who have gone through this rebound -- Derrick Turnbow, Danny Kolb, even Eric Gagne."

Soria, 27, right now is reinforcing Yost's history.

"Bad things make you stronger," Soria says. "If you've always been good, maybe you don't realize what it takes to be good until you go bad."

As for Rivera, who mostly has been immune to slumps throughout his Hall of Fame career, Soria, like everyone else, just marvels.

"He's the best," Soria says. "He's done everything in his career, and I don't think he's ever struggled."

-- Soria and Rivera have met once, at the All-Star Game in Yankee Stadium in 2008. But they did not exchange trade secrets. "We didn't talk about the game," Soria says. "We just talked about life."

-- Though they clearly could use reinforcements for a beat-up bullpen, and manager Charlie Manuel wants a right-handed bat (the Padres' Ryan Ludwick? The Twins' Michael Cuddyer?), the Phillies are telling teams that they they're tapped out financially. They're close to the luxury tax threshold and do not want to cross it. Of course, they were also telling rivals the same thing last winter before they shocked everyone by signing free agent pitcher Cliff Lee.

-- Emphasizing Philadelphia's need for a right-handed bat: The Phillies are hitting .196 in their past 13 games against lefty starters.

-- The Red Sox, too, say they do not want to push their luxury tax any higher than it already is, which suggests no pricey mid-season reinforcements. But recent history under general manager Theo Epstein also suggests the Red Sox get what they need and, right now, their internal discussions are centering on a hitter. They're not getting much out of right field, which led to the release of Mike Cameron this week.

-- Mariners officials are scheduled to talk via conference call next week to discuss final strategy leading into the July trade deadline. Though Seattle has done a nice job of staying competitive, the recent 3-7 tailspin could spur the M's to deal Erik Bedard. Though Bedard landed on the disabled list this week with a knee sprain, he could be a very good trade chip.

-- Thanks to Milwaukee's road woes, the Cardinals are back in a tie for first place in the NL Central entering the weekend. But one scout who has watched St. Louis recently remains unimpressed. "Colby Rasmus is so inconsistent," the scout says. "Sometimes it looks like he's not even there at the plate." Then there are the times when Rasmus looks like he is there, like when he homered Tuesday and Wednesday in Baltimore.

-- In St. Louis' defense, the Cards have been so beat up this year, but while Albert Pujols is out, at least third baseman David Freese has returned from the disabled list. "Daniel Descalso was playing third base when I saw St. Louis," the scout says. "And I'm thinking, 'These are the St. Louis Cardinals?'"

-- This is the Phillies' rotation we expected: Philadelphia starters compiled a 1.96 ERA in June. Which, according to STATS LLC makes the Phils the first team since July of 1992 to go a full month under 2.00. Both Atlanta and the Chicago Cubs did it back in July, '92.

-- Quietly, Padres outfielder Ryan Ludwick is resurfacing and showing why he will be in demand on the July trade market. He's at 51 RBIs in 78 games after finishing April with a .198 batting average and a .294 on-base percentage. That followed his miserable debut in San Diego last summer when he hit .211 with six homers in 59 games after his acquisition from St. Louis. There have been differences between this year and last: A calf injury nagged at him last year, while this April he was hitting the ball hard, just right at people. "I played terrible last year," Ludwick says. "I wouldn't say I've been playing great this year, but I've been doing what I've been known to do and what they brought me over to do. Drive in runs. Last year, every time I came to the ballpark I was stressed out, wondering if I was going to be able to make contact."

-- Know what's funny? The cover of Florida's media guide is a collage of small photos of historical highlights in Marlins history. And right there front and center, albeit at the bottom, is a photo of Jack McKeon in uniform. No need for updating there. Well, except he's wearing No. 15, and this time around, he's No. 25.

-- Angels manger Mike Scioscia, by the way, is still marveling about McKeon's enthusiasm for managing at 80. Scioscia and the Angels saw McKeon in his 2011 debut a couple of weeks back.

Likes: All-Star voting results coming soon, with the game soon to follow. ... Derek Jeter nearly set to resume his chase for 3,000 hits. ... Kerry Wood off of the DL and back in the Cubs' bullpen. ... From rocky NFL labor talks to rocky NBA labor talks to ... baseball labor talks still quiet and positive. ... The smell of neighborhood grills over the Fourth of July weekend. ... Modern Family boxed set, season 1. I'm just catching up to a show I haven't watched. Very funny. ... My sister's frozen key lime pie. Delicious.

Dislikes: Missed Jason Isbell coming through my town last week because of work commitments. His latest disc with his band, the 400 Unit, Here We Rest, is outstanding.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Driving in to Darlington County
"Me and Wayne on the Fourth of July
"Driving in to Darlington County
"Looking for some work on the county line
"We drove down from New York City
"Where the girls are pretty but they just want to know your name
"Driving in to Darlington City
"Got a union connection with an uncle of Wayne's
"We drove eight hundred miles without seeing a cop
"We got rock and roll music blasting off the T-top singing. ..."

-- Bruce Springsteen, Darlington County

Posted on: June 1, 2011 6:57 pm
Edited on: June 1, 2011 7:37 pm

Love Letters: Posey, Pujols and more

Only good thing about these collisions between the readers and me is, MY home plate involves pepperoni pizza and Cheetos instead of catcher's gear. ...

FROM: Tom O.
Re.: Posey's injury is sad, but baseball rules are just fine

I disagree with your assessment of the Posey/Cousins play. Cousins lowered his shoulder, barreled into Posey and had no visible intention to even touch home plate. I can't even see how anyone would come to the conclusion that Cousins was not trying to mow down the catcher. The NFL has taken numerous steps to protect its defenseless players -- just ask James Harrison. Why can't MLB do the same? Now, we have rising popular star Buster Posey out for the season and maybe never the same player, while Scott Cousins continues to be a mediocre pinch-itter. Great for the game. As a baseball writer you, in my opinion are wrong.

No disagreement with your premise that Cousins wasn't looking for impact. He was. My point is, Posey clearly was moving toward the plate as well. The runner has a right to the plate. And Cousins landed on the plate.

FROM: Jason

I agree the rule doesn't need to be changed because Posey was not blocking the plate. It was a dirty play no matter how much some of you a-holes try to defend it.

You're wrong. And watch who you're calling an a-hole, or I'll have Scott Cousins come mow YOU over.

FROM: Tony

Here's a thought. If you think that a collision at home plate could be dangerous and you could get hurt -- STAY IN THE DUGOUT!

Or go play for the Athletics, where GM Billy Beane has advised Kurt Suzuki to stay out of the way and make sweep tags.

FROM: A. C. K.

Sorry Scott, but I don't agree that Buster Posey should be on the disabled list because of your macho attitude! All you have to do is place another plate three feet off to the side with a line drawn perpendicular to the original home plate and add a commitment line 30 feet towards third base. That way, once the runner crosses the commitment line, it becomes a force out at home with no possibility of collision between the runner and the catcher.

A "commitment line"? Come on, you know how guys are with commitments. What are you, somebody's longtime girlfriend waiting for a ring?

FROM: Bill C.

Let me get this straight -- it is illegal for a baserunner to run into a second baseman or shortstop who is trying to make a play on a grounder, but it is perfectly legal for a baserunner to run into the catcher who is trying to catch a throw. Somehow the logic eludes me. It was illegal for A-Rod to swat at Bronson Arroyo's glove running down first base and knocking the ball free in Game 6 in 2004, but it is perfectly legal for the baserunner to bowl over the catcher and knock the ball free? What am I missing?

On the other hand, it IS legal for a runner to slide hard and take out the second baseman on a potential double play.

FROM: Stephen F.

Scott, you are a dumba. This situation would have been an ejection in all levels of baseball through high school, including travel, etc. Our kids watch these players and mimic them. I have seen six get ejected this season alone in higher levels of youth and young adult baseball. It is not a necessary part of the game and safety is first. Follow the high school or travel rules as a model and move on before we watch someone get killed at the plate.

Bad comparison, because it's not the same game. They use aluminum bats in high school, too. Do that in the majors, we'd be watching a pitcher get killed. But I commend you on your use of urban slang.

Re.: What's the deal with Pujols' lumber slumber?

What a bogus headline. If that is what this scout gets paid for, I'm ready to tell teams where they can start sending my check. I can tell you that's NOT the problem, just from being a Cardinals fan all these years and watching the games. Albert Pujols gets into a slump every year, usually early in the season, because he's pulling everything. NOTHING NEW HERE!

Move along, move along.

FROM: Steve T.

The article on Albert Pujols' slow start is fair because it is what it is ... a slow start. Any of the [message-board] posters who think he won't still get his big contract are in La La Land!

I can tell you this: Judging from my e-mail in-box, the population of La La Land is rapidly increasing.

FROM: Paul D.
Re.: Weekend Buzz: Interleague play -- painful to watch, worse to play

I think there should be 15 teams in both the American & the National League. Each league has only one division. Each team plays 150 games, 10 against each team, 5 home, 5 away. The first 4 teams in the division make the playoffs. With this format, there would be a TRUE American and National League Champion. They would play all the teams the same amount of times.

That means interleague play every day of the season. Because if not, with an odd number of teams in each league, somebody has to have a day off every day of the week. So let's pass on your idea.


Throwback uniforms: this to prove you cannot please everyone - I LOVED 'em !!!!!!!!

Oh come on. You must dig leisure suits and mullets, too?

FROM: Scott

Respectfully, interleague play is just fine and a lot of fun to watch. I think perhaps the Cubs have more problems than a couple of games against the Red Sox -- those uniforms were so bad they were almost good.


FROM: Patrick B.

Help me understand why baseball people complain about interleague schedule unfairness when by and large, the most popular sport, the NFL, is fine with it. The Green Bay Packers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers both finished 10-6, and were competing for Wild Cards in the NFC. They shared four common opponents Atlanta, San Fran, Detroit and Washington. This didn't cause NFL writers/teams/fans to go crazy. Were the Buccaneers disadvantaged? I didn't hear a peep about it. Why is it NFL teams can play almost completely different schedules and it's no cause for a massive restructuring, yet MLB's unbalanced schedule is this awful, awful thing?

For starters, because all NFL teams play under the same rules. When an AL club with a strong DH hosts an NL club with a utility infielder masquerading as a DH, the playing field is woefully tilted. Any other questions?

FROM: Matt

Got to agree with you about interleague play, but what I'd rather see instead of dropping it completely is seeing each team play every team once a year. For instance, if the Braves are making a West Coast swing, add in the A's or Angels for a three-game series. Of course, I'm still for a balanced schedule in both leagues as well. It does get old at the end of the season when we're seeing the same players opposing for the 16th, 17th, and 18th times.

Put me down for the balanced schedule.

FROM: Shawn

I couldn't agree more. Interleague needs to go, pitchers need to be baseball players in the American league and the unbalanced schedule needs to go away.

Bing, bam, boom. You are one enlightened dude.

FROM: Joe W.

I am 52 years old and a lifelong Giants fan. I hate interleague play. I have hated it from the beginning back in 1997. The winner of the All-Star game determining which league gets the extra home game in the World Series is ridiculous, but that's another subject. ... If I were commissioner I would do away with interleague play, the designated hitter, the winner of the All-Star game determining home field advantage in the World Series, fans voting for the All-Star game players and Velcro batting gloves. By the way, I hate interleague play. I just wanted to vent a little and sound off. Thanks. Out.

I understand, and I feel your anger on almost every point. But ... Velcro batting gloves? Now you're just looking to kick the dog when you get home from work.

Likes: Marlins rookie Logan Morrison on Twitter, @LoMoMarlins. ... The drama of Justin Smoak's three-run homer Tuesday night with the Mariners four outs from losing to Baltimore. Cool things are going on in Seattle right now. ... Derek Jeter's run at 3,000 hits. Amazing that no Yankee has ever done it. ... Cartoon Gold, from Go Go Boots, the latest disc from the Drive-By Truckers. ... Old REO Speedwagon, back in the You Can Tune a Piano, But You Can't Tuna Fish era.

Dislikes: Sorry, but The Hangover: Part II is absolutely brutal. ... Another report that cell phones might cause brain cancer. Great, one more thing to worry about. ... Chatty people at the gym, particularly on cell phones while "working out."

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Someday I'll be living in a big ol' city
"And all you're ever going to be is mean
"Someday I'll be big enough so you can't hit me
"And all you're ever going to be is mean
"Why you gotta be so mean?"

-- Taylor Swift, Mean


Posted on: May 24, 2011 1:37 am
Edited on: May 24, 2011 1:39 am

Long homerless drought finally ends for Pujols

SAN DIEGO -- You know it's a strange season when an Albert Pujols home run becomes a breaking news bulletin, but such is the state of the three-time NL MVP this year.

When Pujols drilled a ho-hum Dustin Moseley fastball over the left-field fence in the sixth inning here Monday, it snapped the longest home run drought of Prince Albert's career.

Pujols had gone 105 at-bats, and 119 plate appearances, since his last home run on April 23. Both were the longest homerless streaks of his career.

"And that was the worst ball he hit," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said, referring to his two previous long flies to center field in the first and third innings of St. Louis' 3-1 win. "He's been making contact like that. If not the first 10 days [of the season], soon after that.

"He can't catch a break. They're pitching him like he's hitting .350. Every at-bat is a tough at-bat for him."

Pujols is now hitting .268 with eight homers and 26 RBI, a .340 on-base percentage and a .421 slugging percentage.

Between Pujols last two homers:

-- The Cardinals went 16-10, an excellent sign of things to come for Tony La Russa's club (unless you like the odds that Pujols won't homer again for another 105 at-bats).

-- Toronto's Jose Bautista smashed 12 homers.

-- The Yankees' Curtis Granderson hit 10 homers.

-- Boston's Adrian Gonzalez hit eight homers.

-- Arizona pitcher Barry Enright homered once.

-- A total of 15 major-league games were rained out.

-- Britain hosted its first Royal Wedding since 1981.

-- Osama bin Laden was killed.

-- The world did not end.


Posted on: February 17, 2011 10:53 am

Pujols joins Cardinals, ready to rock

JUPITER, Fla. -- Albert Pujols is in the house, in uniform and in terrific spirits.

No contract? No problem.

"You can't be emotional about it," Pujols said early Thursday morning, shortly after his arrival here, one day after his self-imposed deadline for negotiations with the Cardinals passed after talks reached a stalemate. "It's part of the negotiations.

"I have so much respect for this organization. They gave me the opportunity to play 11 years ago. No matter what went down yesterday because of the deadline doesn't mean I'm not going to be a Cardinal."

In fact, that was a theme to which Pujols kept returning: His respect and love for the organization, and his desire to remain in St. Louis.

"I want to be a Cardinal forever," he said. "That's my goal."

Pujols re-iterated that he will not re-open talks during the season, and he said the union has not been pressuring him to hold out for a record-setting contract.

Still, given the parameters right now, it is exceedingly difficult to not see Pujols testing the free agent market next winter. That doesn't mean he won't re-sign with the Cardinals, but it will allow other clubs to take their shots at him.

"When comes to that point, I'm gonna think about that," Pujols said. "But right now it's such a long time before free agency. Maybe I don’t' stay a free agent. That's the way it goes.

"I been part of this organization for 11 years. My goal is, hopefully, to be a part of it the rest of my career. They're my family. I have a family that's my kids and my wife, and this is my second family."

Pujols refused to get into the specifics of the negotiations to day, deflecting a question pertaining to a report that the star had asked for a piece of club ownership as part of the deal. He did say that most of the numbers he's read in various reports -- dollars and length of contract -- have been wrong.

He said that whenever his next contract move does come, he will not be staging a LeBron James-style announcement on national television.

"I have too much respect for this organization and the fans," he said. "I can't think about what's gonna happen seven or eight months from now. I've got too much respect for this organization and for the city of St. Louis.

"The way that city has embraced me and my family, there's no other place that's gonna do that."

And if his thoughts Thursday turn into action this summer, that embrace may grow tighter and cause even more consternation before this wild ride into Pujols' future is finished.

"I more locked in this year than ever," he said. "I'm in great shape. I feel better, stronger, than the last three years because I was able to work out with no hurt. I've had a full [winter] of working out.

"The last couple of years, because of my surgery, I missed almost a month-and-a-half. I'm ready to go, man. I'm really excited. We have a great ballclub."

Posted on: February 16, 2011 5:08 pm

How will Cards be viewed if Pujols leaves?

JUPITER, Fla. -- So if this is the first step in an eventual divorce between Albert Pujols and the Cardinals, how will St. Louis be viewed? In the view of Bill DeWitt Jr., chairman of the board in St. Louis, it'll still come down to the bottom line: Wins and losses, baby.

"I think we'll be judged on how the organization performs without Albert if he goes to another club," DeWitt said. "We're committed to winning, and we're committed to spending the resources to win. That's what the Cardinals are all about.

"If he chooses to go elsewhere, that's a part of the business we're in. The players are mobile in this generation. If he doesn't stay with the Cardinals, and we hope he does, we'll be committed to winning the division like we have been for the last 15 years [since DeWitt led a group of investors who purchased the club from the Busch family in 1995)."

Category: MLB
Posted on: February 16, 2011 4:57 pm

Stuff my editors whacked from the column

JUPITER, Fla. -- Outtakes from the Cardinals camp and Albert Pujols watch Wednesday:

-- Reaction from the Pujols side Wednesday came in the form of a statement from agent Dan Lozano:

"After engaging in discussions with the St. Louis Cardinals Organization, we have suspended further negotiations until after the conclusion of the 2011 season, due to today's self-imposed deadline.  At the beginning of this process, Albert decided a timetable needed to be established in which we would negotiate.  We exchanged proposals with the Cardinals during that time.  While both parties were hopeful that an agreement could be reached, a difference of opinion in determining Albert's value simply could not be resolved.  Albert's production over the last 10 years is nothing short of historic.  He is not only the best player in baseball, and on his way to having a Hall of Fame career, but an iconic figure in sports.  The expiration of today's deadline does not eliminate the possibility of Albert returning to the Cardinals in 2012, but simply delays negotiations until the conclusion of the Cardinals' season.

"Albert's decision to suspend negotiations until after the season is made out of respect to his teammates, coaching staff and the Cardinals Organization.  He wants to prevent this issue from becoming a distraction throughout the year.  Albert cares a great deal about his teammates, manager Tony La Russa, and his coaching staff and respects their ability to prepare each and every day.  Albert has also decided that he will not discuss his contract status for the duration of the season, including Spring Training.  He asks the media to please respect this request.  Albert would also like to reassure the Cardinals Nation that he is determined to bring a World Championship back to the city of St. Louis.  He feels as strongly as ever that this team has the potential to win the World Series.  That alone is why he will not permit his contractual situation to become a distraction or take away from his ability to reach that goal."

-- One reason the Cardinals remain reasonably confident -- publically, at least -- that they can still retain Pujols is because of the tenor of the negotiations. "I don't think any bridges were burned in the process," general manager John Mozeliak said. "Looking toward next year, I don't think we put ourselves in a bad position."

-- Sometimes, enough isn't enough. As Cardinals Chairman of the Board Bill DeWitt Jr. reminded Wednesday, back when Pujols signed his current seven-year, $100 million deal with the Cards in February, 2004, it was considered a very, very big deal.

Now, as for any regrets during the current talks, which broke down and did not result in a new deal by Pujols' self-imposed noon deadline?

"I regret that that contract wasn't longer," DeWitt cracked. "I remember this specifically. Some of my contemporaries at MLB at the time said, 'That's a long contract.' I remember saying, 'It won't be long enough.' And here we are."

-- DeWitt on whether there is a parallel with the Yankees/Derek Jeter negotiations this past winter (Pujols is 31, Jeter 36): "I think one difference is where they are in their careers when they're hitting free agency. With Albert and the city, it does parallel. Ownership and the front office here are looking at the positive, we're not looking at the negative side through the media. I think there's a stark difference there."

-- Great line from ace Chris Carpenter as the ace pitcher was leaving after practice around 11:30 a.m. while walking by a group of reporters toward his car: "He's STILL not here?!" Speaking, of course, of Pujols.

Sunblock Day? While it may have felt colder to the Cardinals, it was a beautiful, 75-degree day here in Jupiter with plenty of sun.

Likes: Cameron Maybin ripping Panda Express ... and then reversing course when he found that one of the Padres' minority owners owns Panda Express. Very comical. ... Dave O'Brien, the excellent Braves beat writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, took a motorcycle ride with new manager Fredi Gonzalez. Then they pulled off the road, did an interview and the very well-done result is here. ... It was released last summer, but the Rolling Stones' Exile on Main St. re-issue is well worth it. ... A new Drive-By Truckers disc, Go-Go Boots. Haven't picked it up yet. Will soon. ... Mick Jagger was pretty impressive at the Grammy Awards on Sunday. ... Blue Valentine. Hard movie to watch, but Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling are terrific. ... The blackened grouper at the Abbey Road Bar and Grill in Jupiter. Still.

Dislikes: Went back to the rental car counter the other day to get a map, then walked back to what I thought was my Nissan Altima, opened the driver's side door ... and startled a man who was sitting behind the wheel preparing to leave. He wasn't trying to steal my car, though. Yep, it was me -- I walked up to the wrong vehicle.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Broken bottles broken plates
"Broken switches broken gates
"Broken dishes broken parts
"Streets are filled with broken hearts
"Broken words never meant to be spoken
"Everything is broken"

-- Bob Dylan, Everything is Broken

Posted on: February 16, 2011 2:33 pm
Edited on: February 16, 2011 2:42 pm

Cardinals: We will not explore a trade for Pujols

JUPITER, Fla. -- Now the St. Louis Cardinals and Albert Pujols move from the positioning and posturing into the unknown.

The Cardinals expressed disappointment Wednesday that they couldn't reach an agreement on a new contract for Pujols, and Pujols' Camp issued a statement confirming that it has "suspended negotiation until after the conclusion of the 2011 season."

There was not much talking in the past several days, according to sources with knowledge of the talks. The Cardinals presented Pujols with an offer "around the first of the year", according to general manager John Mozeliak. Bill DeWitt Jr., chairman of the board, confirmed that the Cardinals used that as a basis as conversations evolved from there, discussing ways to tweak various parts of that deal without ever pulling it from the table and presenting a whole new offer.

Either way, it never achieved liftoff, and Wednesday's conclusion pretty much has been expected all week.

The Cardinals are determined to take another run at Pujols after the season. For now, Mozeliak and DeWitt said, they would respect Pujols' wish to not be bothered with contract talk during the season. However, if Camp Pujols were to change its mind and approach the Cardinals, Mozeliak said, the club is "always open for business."

Meanwhile, Mozeliak said Pujols will play his usual key role on the Cardinals' club this summer and that even with free agency looming, a pre-emptive strike by exploring possible trade paths is not on the team's radar.

"It is not," Mozeliak said. "It's not something we would either consider or do."

It should be noted that Pujols has full no-trade powers as a "10-and-5 man" -- 10 years in the majors, the past five with the same club.

Posted on: February 16, 2011 10:15 am
Edited on: February 16, 2011 10:29 am

La Russa on Pujols talks: 'I'm tapped out'

JUPITER, Fla. -- Less than two hours to the noon self-imposed deadline Albert Pujols has set for a new contract with the Cardinals, there remain no signs here of anything other than high noon passing quietly and the situation raging on through the 2011 season and the big man's impending free agency.

Manager Tony La Russa addressed a large group of reporters and television cameras around 9:30 a.m. on his way out for the day's workout and said, well, not much.

"I think the last two days I've done more than enough talking," La Russa said. "I don't have anything more to say than I already did.

"There isn't anything more I can add to what I said. I'm tapped out. I'm anxious to get back to our baseball team."

He did address comments from players' union boss Michael Weiner, who flatly denied La Russa's accusations Tuesday that the union is putting the hammer down on Pujols to not accept anything less than a record contract.

"I saw it," La Russa said. "It kind of omitted part of what I said, that if I was running the union, I'm not sure I'd handle it any differently.

"But it strains credibility a little to think there hasn't been any contact. He's too significant."

Mostly, La Russa did his best to deflect the looming deadline as best as he could.

"Our staff's concentration is on the 2011 season," La Russa said. "I go back to Chicago. All teams, every year there's the potential for all kinds of distractions. They come in many forms. If you give in to them, you're not that good a team.

"If we give into it, we're not good enough and we would end up getting beaten by something else. You can do it [block out distractions]. It can be done.

"You've got to be good enough."
La Russa also welcomed the large media crowd.

"I'm serious about that," he said. "If we're going to be any good, we hope to draw attention to the team. The fact that you're here, for whatever reason, I think the guys are enjoying it."

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