He didn't appear in a game for St. Louis until the Cardinals fourth spring training contest, but right-hander Brad Thompson needed only 25 pitches on Sunday to get through three perfect innings.
A sinker specialist, Thompson, got six of the nine outs on grounders and he struck out one batter for another out.
Thompson began spring training hoping for a chance to begin the season as the Cardinals 5th starter. He initially has been widely thought as, being behind right-handers; Braden Looper and Ryan Franklin in the race for the fifth spot.
My first take on the organization's plans for Thompson this spring was that he'll likely be sent down to Triple-A Memphis to start the season there, as he makes the transition from being a reliever to a starting candidate for St. Louis in the event of an injury or potentially for the 2008 season.
Thompson began the 2006 season with the Cardinals but was optioned to Triple-A Memphis in early July after having already allowed more base hits and earned runs in 38.1 innings than he did in 55 frames in '05.
Initially inserted back into the rotation at Memphis to log more innings, Thompson went 2-0 with a 2.11 ERA, allowing 36 hits in 42.2 innings, before being called back up to the big leagues in August. He was sent back down after just six days, but returned when rosters expanded in September.
Overall, Thompson posted a 3.34 ERA in 43 appearances for the Cardinals, allowing 58 hits, striking out 32 and walking 20 in 56.2 innings.
He has made only 26 career professional starts, 25 in the minors and one start in the majors, but if Thompson keeps pitching like he did Sunday, it will be hard for Cardinals manager Tony La Russa and pitching coach Dave Duncan not to consider him as one of the five starters to begin the season.