The Springfield Cardinals Report – May 4

Juan Encarnacion

Our exclusive weekly report on the 2007 edition of the Double-A Springfield Cardinals of the Texas League from our on-site beat reporter, John Brayfield. This week's report again focuses on rehabbing outfielder Juan Encarnacion.

In a mere two days, the Springfield Cardinals fell from a share of first place in the Northern Division of the Texas League to sole owner of last place. It's amazing how fast things change in minor league baseball—faster than the weather even. Speaking of the weather, it has not been kind to the Springfield Cardinals. Rainouts and delays have become almost a rule rather than an exception at Hammons Field. As the Cardinals Mike Lindskog calls it:

"Mother nature and the Springfield Cardinals just coudn't seem to meet eye-to-eye in the month of April," Lindskog reported. "The Cards were snowed out on April 7 in Midland (Texas, no less), rained out on April 12, and then snowed out on the 13th at home against Midland. Because the two teams don't meet again in the first half, all three of those games will be lost in the standings. Tuesday's (April 24) game against the Wichita Wranglers was rained out, but will be made up May 10 as part of a double-header. Friday's (April 27) game got started an hour late due to rain, then suffered a 48 minute rain-delay after just a half inning."

Cal Eldred and Larry Bigbie didn't exactly throw up outstanding stats during their rehab stints in Double-A uniforms, but they wore it proudly and the fans were left with a fond memory of the two major leaguers. I wish the same could be said about the latest major injury player to rehab in Springfield—Juan Encarnacion.

As the Cardinals left town for Wichita, after Monday's loss to Tulsa, Encarnacion was batting a mere .073. He was 6-for-23 and went 0-for-5 in Monday's game. But it wasn't his lack of hits or performance - it was his attitude that the fans will remember - or maybe it is just me. The rehabbing right fielder seemed to be more concerned about not aggravating his injury, a torn ligament in his left wrist, than he did in helping a team that he seemed to view as only a peg above sandlot ball.

His lackluster fielding was matched only by his uninspiring base running. Instead of showing a small bit of leadership to his up-and-coming future star players, he seemed to choose dragging up the rear in every category. I wasn't there when he punched his time card so I can only speculate as to when he arrived in the clubhouse. I can only hope that he does better when he gets back into Busch Stadium and wears a big league uniform. Sorry we were not up to your level, Juan. Just remember - the hot Joe Mather can also play right field.

Update: Springfield split a doubleheader Thursday night with the Wichita Wranglers at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium in Wichita winning the first game 7-5 and losing the second 6-5. The doubleheader was played to make up for another rainout on Tuesday night.

Cory Rauschenberger got his first Double-A win, as Joe Mather hit his league leading 11th home run of the season (heads up Juan) while Colby Rasmus hit two long balls during the pair of games (he can play right field also).

The Springfield Cardinals are 10-13, 1 1/2 games behind the division-leading Tulsa Drillers, and play one more game Friday night with Wichita before returning home Saturday.



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