Cardinals Notebook: First full day

By B.J. Rains
Feb. 19, 2011

2:30 p.m. update
Annual team meeting officially kicks off camp

JUPITER, Fla. � Manager Tony La Russa aims to include a new message or wrinkle at the annual team meeting held before the first official workout of the year. Saturday morning, he leaned on experience.

After hearing from chairman Bill DeWitt and GM John Mozeliak, La Russa asked Hall of Famer Red Schiendienst to address the team. The skipper introduced Schiendienst by comparing his first spring training 67 years ago to now.

“I said what a great facility we have and how we get our work done and he explained about the 9-to-5 on one field,” La Russa joked. “I said I don’t think they understand for sure. Like today, if you track our guys they will have about 150 to 200 swings, depending on how active they are. I said, ‘When you worked out, how many swings did you get?’ He said, ‘Well, eight or ten.’ I said, ‘Did you use new balls?’ and said, ‘We had the same balls for eight to 10 days.’ Times have changed.”

The Cardinals had a lengthy first day on the field Satuday, going through defensive drills and stations for almost an hour before rotating through a series of hitting stations.

The featured group consisted Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday, Lance Berkman, Yadier Molina and Colby Rasmus, who took batting practice in front of a decent crowd on field No. 2. Berkman struggled in his first day as a Cardinal, popping several balls into the cage.

Position players had to arrive early for physical exams, which were completed before the team meeting took place at 9:30 a.m. eastern. The meeting lasted more than 30 minutes.

Asked how many swings he got during spring training, La Russa replied, “None. I just shagged. I wasn’t going to play so why bother wasting swings. I was a very good shagger. I never complained which is why they put me on the club as the 25th guy until they got somebody better.”

Chris Carpenter and Kyle Lohse were among the starters who threw their third bullpen sessions of the spring. Pitchers went through a series of defensive drills in which they fielded ground balls on the mound and also worked on covering first base on balls hit to the first baseman.

The Cardinals will play the Marlins on Feb. 28th in the first exhibition game of the spring.

12:30 p.m. update

La Russa thinks Edmonds will coach

There’s a chance we could see Jim Edmonds in a Cardinals uniform this spring after all.

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said Saturday that be believes the veteran outfielder will someday make an excellent coach. �He even voiced his hope that Edmonds will decide to do that this spring with the Cardinals.

Edmonds was going to try and win a spot on the Cardinals bench this spring but announced his retirement Friday due to persistent pain in his right Achilles.

“I will bet that he will return as a coach, even if it’s just to show up in spring training for 10 days, two weeks, because he is going to miss this and you know that he has a lot to offer,” La Russa said. “He’s going to watch and say, �I can help that guy’. There’s no doubt in my mind. He may be stubborn and it may not be for a year or two, but I know how smart he was about how he played, especially the defensive side, which is why we tried to get him in this year before he ever decided he might try to play.

“He has a lot that he can teach. I’m hoping he does it before it’s over this year. We talked to him about it before he decided and he was going to think about it but he still wanted to play�I think he loves the game.”

General manager John Mozeliak seemed to indicate Friday that he would be all for Edmonds’ coming to spring as a guest instructor.

9 a.m. CT update:

Players sad to see Edmonds retire

Despite being a young outfielder, Albert Pujols thought he knew everything.

But routinely, despite thinking he was in the right position, centerfielder Jim Edmonds would motion for him to move to a different spot. And like clockwork, the ball would seemingly find Pujols every time.

The Cardinals had hoped Edmonds would be healthy enough to return camp and provide similar wisdom and knowledge on their young group of outfielders. But Edmonds informed the Cardinals Friday morning that he was retiring and wouldn’t be reporting to camp due to persistent pain in his Achilles.

Hoping to get the band back together again, several Cardinals were left disappointed that Jimmy Ballgame wouldn’t be giving it one more try in St. Louis.

“Jimmy was amazing out there,”Pujols said. “I always said it. I don’t think there could be any better centerfielder read the ball like Jimmy. I had the opportunity to play in the outfield with him and he would whistle to me or say something and I’m like, ‘What are you talking about?’ and he’s like, ‘Move to the right,’ or, ‘Move to the left,’ or, ‘Move down the line.’ And here comes the ball – it was unbelievable.

“He knew it. He was in the game. He always tried to make everybody around him better. Like I said, that’s why he won so many gold gloves out there. I think he’s going to get pretty good consideration to be, whenever his time comes, to be in the ballot for Hall of Fame. He has a good resume to throw out there.�

Pitcher Chris Carpenter also was among those to show disappointment in Edmonds’ announcement, saying the veteran would have been a perfect fit for the Cardinals bench.

“When we first signed him I thought it would be a great addition if he was willing to be a part time player and give some guys some breaks,”Carpenter said. “How could you not want a Gold Glove centerfielder who could play any outfield position, left-handed pop off the bench, fill in every once in a while and then have his presence around a guy like Colby who has a chance to be a great player also. How can that be bad? I thought it would have been a neat thing but unfortunately it didn’t work out.

“He was just an unbelievable clubhouse presence and an unbelievable player. The best centerfielder I’ve ever seen. He had that extra level too. In those big games, he could pick it up that one extra notch and do something special. He had an unbelievable career.�

Asked if he ever saw a batter hit one of his pitches and think there was no chance it would be caught, only to see Edmonds somehow track it down or make a diving catch, Carpenter smiled.

“Absolutely,”Carpenter said. “All the time. Many of them. He was phenomenal.�