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Cardinals Washington Whispers – 05/03/09

To close out the 4-2 road trip, we waited multiple hours for the rain to stop in Washington on Sunday. Here is a rough approximation of the events.

1:00 p.m. Announcement of 1:35 p.m. start, but the tarp wasn’t even off yet. Steady rain.

1:30 p.m. Tarp removed, Kyle Lohse pulled from start in favor of Kyle McClellan, who as the union rep was also a part of the decision. New start announced for 2:00.

2:00 p.m. Tarp back on, no announce time. Rain slows shortly after.

2:30 p.m. Nats president Stan Kasten talks with the press. Still wants to try to get game in.

3:15 p.m. Tarp drained off and put back on.

3:30 p.m. Game finally called with no makeup date yet.

3:45 p.m. Rain stopped – at least for a short while.

Tony La Russa spoke with the press prior to Sunday’s game as always. I will forego the details of the discussion about how he wanted to play the game since it is moot.

I will share one comment. One writer asked Tony if the weather dictated any of his line up choices. His reply: “I should put the guys out there I don’t care about?” Then he answered the question with Pujols as the example. “Albert didn’t start yesterday because his legs were achy, but he’s playing today. These guys just have to play under control.”

It is interesting to note the manager’s comments on P.J. Walters, who tossed two innings on Saturday and was the only reliever not “hot” on Sunday. After these comments, the decision was made to send Walters back to Memphis with Brad Thompson returning to St. Louis. Look for that to be announced on Monday.

“He (P.J.) hasn’t thrown the ball as hard in relief, which is a bit surprising. Normally when you only pitch an inning or two, you can really let it go. I still think he’s probably learning the role. He’s got the weapons to do that job. Try to settle into it. He’s a starting pitcher we’re using as an innings guy…. I don’t want to set him back, either. He’s got a chance to pitch in this league.”

When asked about a swap between Walters and Thompson:

“We’re evaluating the roster all the time. I’m not going to get into that daily thing. Start getting him paranoid and getting Thompson’s hopes up. I think Brad pitched a couple of good games but the last one wasn’t as good. He’s just got to take care of his business.”

When asked about whether he’d rather play the other division clubs more often (balanced schedule) in the context of making reschedule of games like Sunday’s easier:

“I don’t spend any time thinking about it. The guys that make the decisions are the ones thinking about it. What good is there to think about it? It doesn’t change anything. What they give us is what you’ve got to play with.”

On the bullpen:

“They’re all settling in, understand what is expected and what they have to do. They’re making some progress. What I think about the bullpen is what I think about the whole club. If we don’t improve – if this is the best we play all year – it won’t be good enough. We’ve got to improve.

“When we came out of spring training, I had an idea, Dunc had an idea what Chris (Perez) had to do to get better. Every one of those guys. At the beginning of the season, you see what’s working. Keep tweaking it. Pat them on the back when they do well. That stuff never changes.

“It’s a long season and they each have adjustments. They’ve each had enough success, they feel like they could be a contributor. I don’t think anybody is scared to go out there.”

On the aftermath of Rick Ankiel’s crash into the wall Saturday:

“I know he had a whiplash. I didn’t know if he was going to be able to go today, but he said he was good to go.”

On the ideal back up catcher:

“A guy that understands and accepts his role. A guy that takes a lot of interest and pride in working with a staff. To know it’s the responsibility of the catcher to get something out of the pitching staff that day. A guy that is going to work well with the regular catcher – not sitting there eating his heart out that the other guy will go 0-for-4 or 0-for-12 so he can play.

“The only thing that could make Jason (LaRue) a better fit for us is if he hit left-handed. But that’s not really important. Jason LaRue is everything you want to look for. He catches great. He throws well. Between him and Yadi (Molina), they’re tough to run on. He’s a veteran, a winner.

“A dad comes up to me and asks me how his kid should get noticed. I tell him to be a catcher. That’s the way to get to the big leagues,” said the manager.

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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