Izzy Appearing in His First Game Today

The return of Jason Isringhausen to the mound will go a long way toward stabilizing both the bullpen and starting rotation.

Jason Isringhausen, finished last season with a 4-8 won-loss record with 33 saves and a 3.55 ERA, playing a key role in the Cardinals World Championship, in spite of being hurt most of the season.

The St. Louis Cardinals closer blew a league-leading 10 saves last year before shutting it down in September to have surgery on his degenerative hip. There were some concerns that the hip injury may be career-threatening, or even in a best case scenario, that Isringhausen may not be ready to start the 2007 season.

The closer has been scheduled to make this Grapefruit League appearance today for weeks. After his last outing, pitching a batting practice session on the backfields at Roger Dean Stadium, Izzy demonstrated more control than he had in earlier sessions and did not complain of any pain or mechanical problems.

Cardinals' manager Tony La Russa told reporters Monday that Izzy will pitch the first inning of Thursday's game against the Los Angeles Dodgers and will be on about a 25 pitch count limit. If Izzy cruises through the first inning, he won't be brought back out to face batters in the second.

Iringhausen's rehab from surgery continues to progress as scheduled, his availability for Opening Day appears to be very promising.

Last year Jason Isringhausen became the Cardinals' all-time saves leader on June 13, when he posted his 161st save since joining the Cardinals prior to the 2002 season.

Today's game will be broadcasted on the St. Louis Cardinals radio flagship station KTRS the BIG 550 and Ray Mileur will have the Birdhouse "LIVE" Game Thread on the message board today at 1:05 p.m. E.T.

Click here for the game day thread.

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