Right-hander Kyle McClellan, who
has worked as a starter in the previous two spring trainings, apparently will
get the first chance to inherit the starting spot left open by the loss of ace
right-hander Adam Wainwright to Tommy John surgery.
Manager Tony La Russa noted that
the development of right-handed relievers Jason Motte and Mitchell Boggs more
easily can free up McClellan to move from the bullpen to the rotation.
"Kyle paid some really good dues
as a reliever, and last year he had really an outstanding year," La Russa said
of McClellan, who had a sparkling 2.27 earned run average in 2010. "He's a real
weapon because of his ability to get rights and lefts out. You take that weapon
out of the bullpen ... the answer is we're in better shape because the other two
guys have got some experience."
McClellan said, "In this
situation, I'd like to start. I feel like we are in a good spot in the bullpen.
I've put my time in and learned a lot in the bullpen."
La Russa did not eliminate other
contenders but suggested that right-handers Adam Ottavino and Ian Snell are a
Ottavino hasn't appeared in a game
since last July 3 because of a labrum issue. Snell, in camp on a minor league
contract, was restricted early because of a facial injury.
Should McClellan falter, the club
could look outside the organization for a free agent like Kevin Millwood or try
right-hander Lance Lynn, a 13-game winner at Memphis last year, and P.J. Walters, who was 8-5 at Memphis and won two starts for the Cardinals.
As for Wainwright, the recovery
period is expected to be 12 to 15 months.
"Not to be melodramatic, but
you're losing an ace," general manager John Mozeliak said. "It's not something
you can replace overnight.'
--INF Nick Punto was lost for
between eight and 12 weeks after having surgery to repair a tear in his lower
abdomen. Punto was to have seen time mostly at third base this spring, and his
injury probably opens for the door for Daniel Descalso, impressive last
September at third base, to fill a void as an extra man. INF Tyler Greene and
non-roster INF Ramon Vazquez also are bidding for a reserve infield spot, and OF
Allen Craig will be tried at third base as 3B David Freese rounds into shape
after having had two ankle surgeries last year.
--3B David Freese wasn't expected
to play in the first few exhibition games. "March 31 (Opening Day) is what I'm
pointing toward," he said. Manager Tony La Russa said he was impressed by how
Freese was progressing but he added, "If it means keeping him out a week to be
more certain, that's what we'll give him."
--The Cardinals reached agreements
with all the players on their 40-man roster, including three pre-arbitration
pitchers, RHPs Jason Motte and Mitchell Boggs and LHP Jamie Garcia. Earlier this
offseason, the Cardinals signed RHP Kyle McClellan to a one-year deal, avoiding
arbitration, and earlier in camp, they got contracts done with Freese and OFs
Jon Jay and Craig, who also were pre-arbitration players.
--OF Lance Berkman, who hasn't
played regularly in the outfield for several years, had some left elbow soreness
in early drills and took a day off from throwing to rest it. "Going from first
base to the outfield you're throwing more, a lot longer and with more effort. I
just want to make sure the elbow is where it needs to be," Berkman
--That RHP Adam Wainwright was to
undergo Tommy John elbow surgery was nothing new to members of the Cardinals'
rotation. RHPs Chris Carpenter and Jake Westbrook and LHP Jaime Garcia have had
it, as has RHP Kyle McClellan, who might take Wainwright's spot in the rotation.
BY THE NUMBERS: 39 -- Wins, tops
in the National League, by RHP Adam Wainwright, the last two seasons.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's not a good
day. It's a huge hit. We have to overcome this." -- Manager Tony La Russa, upon
learning that RHP Adam Wainwright would be out for the season because of Tommy
The Cardinals entered the
offseason with one of the best core groups in baseball: 1B Albert Pujols, LF
Matt Holliday, RHPs Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter and Gold Glove C Yadier Molina. They have tried to upgrade the supporting cast, particularly by signing
RF Lance Berkman.
ARRIVALS: C Gerald Laird (free
agent from Tigers), RF Lance Berkman (free agent from Yankees), LHP Brian Tallet
(free agent from Blue Jays), SS Ryan Theriot (trade with Dodgers), RHP Miguel Batista (free agent from Nationals), RHP Ian Snell (free agent from Mariners),
INF Ramon Vazquez (minor league free agent from Astros), INF Nick Punto (free
agent from Twins).
DEPARTURES: INF Brendan Ryan
(traded to Mariners), LHP Dennys Reyes (free agent, signed with Phillies), RHP
Blake Hawksworth (traded to Dodgers), RHP Brad Penny (free agent, signed with
Tigers), RHP Jeff Suppan (free agent, signed minor league contract with Giants),
RHP Mike MacDougal (free agent, signed minor league deal with Dodgers), 3B Pedro Feliz (free agent, signed minor league deal with Royals), OF Randy Winn (free
agent, signed minor league deal with Orioles), LHP Dennys Reyes (free agent,
signed minor league deal with Red Sox), INF Aaron Miles (free agent, signed
minor league deal with Dodgers).
1. RHP Adam Wainwright
1. RHP Chris
2. LHP Jaime
3. RHP Jake
4. RHP Kyle Lohse
5. RHP Kyle McClellan
Wainwright's injury could be a
huge factor not only for the Cardinals, but the entire NL Central. The Cardinals
had thought they were as set with their rotation as they've been in years and
were most concerned about whether Lohse can remain healthy. Lohse, plagued
mostly by forearm problems, has won just 10 games over the last two seasons
after winning 15 in 2008. Depth behind the top five is
RHP Ryan Franklin
RHP Fernando Salas
LHP Trever Miller
Little change in the makeup of a
bullpen that was successful far more often than not last year. Might be a bit
weak on the left side, with Miller and Tallet coming off subpar seasons, but
it's very deep right-handed. Boggs and Motte rank as closer candidates if
veteran Franklin falters.
1. 2B Skip Schumaker
2. CF Colby Rasmus
3. 1B Albert
4. LF Matt
5. RF Lance
6. C Yadier
7. 3B David
8. SS Ryan
The leadoff spot is up for grabs
between Schumaker and newcomer Theriot, and it might be that Theriot will lead
off against left-handers and Schumaker will hit first against right-handers.
Berkman is slotted fifth for now but could move to second if Rasmus is deemed
capable of protecting Pujols and Holliday.
TOP ROOKIES: Technically not a rookie --
he missed by a few days -- Allen Craig, the most notable power hitter in the
minor league system, ostensibly is a first-year player. Craig was productive
last season at the big-league level when he got to play four or five games in a
row, but he had a difficult time coming off the bench as a pinch hitter or spot
player, which likely will be his lot this year, too, if he makes the club.
The top pitching prospect
probably is RHP Lance Lynn, a 13-game winner at Class AAA Memphis. INF Daniel
Descalso was impressive at third base in a late season trial but probably was
ticketed for Memphis until the injury to INF Nick Punto. OF
Adron Chambers (.282 at Class AA Springfield and .290 at Memphis) brings
base-stealing speed, a rare quality for the Cardinals. He swiped 14 last
--RHP Adam Wainwright (right elbow) was hurt Feb. 21, and he will undergo
Tommy John surgery. He will miss the entire 2011 season.
--INF Nick Punto (hernia) was
expected to have surgery in late February. He is likely to be out until at least