Posted on: May 27, 2009 5:51 pm
MILWAUKEE -- It's not exactly the Barry Bonds treatment, but with two more intentional walks today, in the Cardinals' 3-2 win over the Brewers, Albert Pujols now has eight in the last eight games.
Eight intentional walks is as many as any major-league player besides Pujols has all year. Manny Ramirez has eight, six behind Pujols' major-league leading total of 14.
The walks don't come as a surprise. Some scouts and executives wonder why Pujols isn't intentionally walked even more often.
But with Ryan Ludwick expected to return from the disabled list on Friday, will opposing managers be more reluctant to put Pujols on first base?
"They're always going to pitch Albert carefully," Cards manager Tony La Russa said. "But during the first month of the season, it was obvious that Ludwick had managers' respect. Lud has got their attention."
Ludwick hit 37 home runs last year, and had eight in 30 games before going on the DL May 13 with a right hamstring strain. Nick Stavinoha batted behind Pujols today, a day after hitting his first big-league home run.
"[Pujols] is such a good hitter," Ludwick said. "If the situation's right, they're still going to walk him. They did it when I was hitting there, too, but fortunately, a few times I got them."
In five at-bats that followed Pujols intentional walks, Ludwick was 3-for-5 with four RBIs. Today, Stavinoha followed one intentional walk with a sacrifice fly, but another with a bases-loaded strikeout.
La Russa said giving Pujols the best chance depends in part on who hits behind him, but also on having baserunners on in front of him. He said that's a big reason he continues to bat the pitcher eighth, giving him three regular position players hitting in front of Pujols.
The Cardinals went 8-6 in the 14 games that Ludwick missed, but they scored just 44 runs, an average of 3.1 a game. Pujols hit .293, with one home run and six RBIs.
Posted on: June 26, 2008 2:56 pm
"Not a Braves-type player."
I heard exactly that a couple of weeks back, when I asked a Braves person about Sidney Ponson. I knew the answer, but I asked, anyway. After all, the Braves were looking everywhere for starting pitching help.
"Not a Braves-type player."
When Ponson had his trouble with the Rangers, causing disturbances and causing Texas to designate him for assignment, officials from several organizations predicted that he wouldn't get another job. Of course, he did, and now he's scheduled to start for the Yankees Friday night against the Mets.
I wouldn't have done it. They did. And when a team like the Yankees is willing to sign a player with as bad a track record as Ponson, you start to figure that almost anyone can get another chance these days.
Anyone but Barry Bonds.
"I feel like our story's just as good as theirs," Cards outfielder Ryan Ludwick said. "There were people picking us to finish fifth. We saw one magazine that said we'd only win 56 games. That'll get your blood boiling."
The Cards survived their two weeks without Albert Pujols, who returned today (a week earlier than expected).
That's three guys who each have 2,000-plus career hits (and two who have 2,500-plus). That's 897 combined home runs, 3,591 combined RBIs.
Sheffield hadn't hit lower than sixth since 1989, according to research through baseball-reference.com. Before this year, Renteria hadn't hit lower than seventh since 1996. And before this year, Rodriguez hadn't hit lower than sixth since 1995, and hadn't hit ninth since 1992.
In case you're wondering, it's not unheard of for a future Hall of Famer to bat near the bottom of the order, even in the middle of his career. Johnny Bench actually hit eighth for Cincinnati two times in the 1979 season.