Cardinals Winter Warm-Up Saturday Log

Lance Berkman

News from the St. Louis Cardinals Winter Warm-Up on Saturday, January 15.

While full interviews will follow over the upcoming days, I thought I would drop in a few comments from the various media sessions held at the St. Louis Cardinals Winter Warm-Up at the Hyatt Regency at the Arch.

Photos of all players posted at The Cardinal Nation Blog.

Kyle Lohse
Our first interview of the day was with Kyle Lohse, who was definitely upbeat. He has been throwing since late December on flat ground and will take the mound for the first time in a couple of weeks. It seems everything is normal.

Lohse realizes that had he been healthy, the Cardinals could have closed that five game gap with Cincinnati in 2010.

Asked about team chemistry, he said the following.

"If we're winning, chemistry wasn't an issue with the same group (they had)… People are looking for a reason… The only time we talk about it (chemistry) is when we are asked."

Fernando Vina
The former second baseman returns to the WWU after having been away for a few years. He has ended his national broadcasting but may return with A's coverage on Comcast California near his home. That would keep him off long airplane flights.

Vina is still slowed a bit from surgery last year as he said degeneration from a 2005 tear of his labrum in his hip joint reached the point he could not put on his socks. I am guessing his wife cast the deciding vote for the procedure.

Nick Stavinoha
Taken off the 40-man roster in November, the outfielder looks fit and trim. He reports he has lost five pounds and is at 236 pounds. Stavinoha caught his first bullpen the other day and will be reporting to camp with pitchers and catchers on February 13. Nick expects to again compete for a reserve job as an outfielder, first baseman, pinch hitter and emergency catcher.

Daniel Descalso
The rookie infielder doesn't have to be told what role he is playing in 2011. Descalso says he is coming to camp ready to play all three infield positions, second, short and third.

Jon Jay
Other than the obvious of coming to camp not taking anything for granted, the outfielder had no news to offer.

Jake Westbrook
His left shoulder "feels great" but his scheduled recovery period was said to be four to six months. As such, he may not be allowed to hit during spring training. He joked it will allow him to "master, or at least get better" with his bunting. No issues with his pitching.

When the inevitable chemistry question came up, Westbrook joked about how good it is to have other Georgia boys on the team.

Jose Oquendo
The third base coach seemed more at ease than usual. He discussed Ian Snell from his World Baseball Classic experience, saying he could be a good fifth starter or better. Oquendo stayed in St. Louis all winter and did not travel home to Puerto Rico.

Regarding Allen Craig at third base, Oquendo admitted they "haven't seen much" of him there, but "he can do adequate." The coach said his bat is what matters most while noting they can help him get to balls quicker and play tighter on defense.

Oquendo has the same questions we all do about third base. "I am looking forward to seeing how Davy (David Freese) is… I have a little concern about who his back up is." Jose also noted that Freese's "range is better than people think – it his legs are OK."

Oquendo also disclosed the signing of infielder Ramon Vazquez. The veteran received a minor league contract with an MLB spring camp invite.

Yadier Molina told Oquendo he has lost a lot of weight in the off-season, to help his knees.

Brian Tallet
Is happy to get the chance to pitch in 75-80 games for the first time. First time for him to get into an actual role. Also good to get out of the "brutal" AL East. His "main determining factor" in where to play was that "I am ready to win". Said losing meant "wear and tear" on his Toronto teams.

Last season he was hurt early in the season, came back too soon and was "exposed". He was not ready.

David Freese
Will do every drill from the start of camp like the others, but maybe at different intensity than others from start. Different here talking about it than doing it.

Chris Carpenter
Last two years is best he felt. This year same. "Learning how to take care of himself a little better."

Berkman "brings some silliness out there" but serious between lines. He is an "all-star caliber stud."

He admits they have discussed his own contract situation "among his family". Not in his hands. Would have to play somewhere else if Cards don't want him. Not something he wants.

On 2010 season. "We had the talent. We just didn't play well. That's the bottom line." Asked what some of the factors were, he refused to be specific. "All kinds of things, but I don't want to comment about it." Carp is looking ahead to 2011.

John Mozeliak
McClellan brings what they want in a reliever – "length and consistency". One year deal done. Discussed longer term, but it "never gained traction."

Ottavino and Valdes looked at more as swingmen. Ottavino would start in Memphis, but relief as an option will be discussed in spring training. Mo acknowledged his stuff can be dominating in bursts.

Asked for internal depth chart for reserves at third base, Mo listed Descalso, Craig and Greene in that order. Pressed if that is the priority, he said that Descalso proved he could handle the job in 2010, but he would not rule Craig out.

Won't handicap, guess, gut feel on Pujols contract. Not prepared to talk about it… Will stay agnostic and not comment at this time. The Cardinals have been informed that the beginning of spring training is the Pujols' camp contract discussion deadline.

Trever Miller
Is learning a curveball. Will see how it goes in camp.

Colby Rasmus
Has been doing a lot of hunting this winter. Last year was "a learning experience to get better for this year… Can't change what happened. Can't change what I did… Last year at the end, we talked. Everything is great. I am ready to go… We're all grown men. Water under the bridge."

Lance Berkman
Not concerned about weight. Concerned about how he feels. 210 pounds now and wants to come to camp at 215. 9.5% to 10% body fat currently.

"Right field is the toughest of the three positions." He is ok with either corner. First base is harder on his knees than the outfield. He has wear and tear under kneecap. Starting and stopping at 1B is worse. "I am not concerned at all about playing outfield."

Told his agent he would go to STL or four teams – HOU, TEX, ATL, COL. Two said ‘no', two said ‘maybe' and the other was St. Louis. Wanted one-year deal so he can either be positioned well after the season for a new deal or could retire without having to worry about honoring the second year.

"If there is a better team in the NL, I don't know who they are." Sees STL as a "legitimate World Series contender."

"As a veteran, you have to take a leadership role... I like to have fun." Brings positive energy to clubhouse.

Check back for more content to be added here throughout the weekend.



Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnationblog.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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