A League of Her Own

Wednesday Headlines: St. Louis Wept


Bleacher Bums in midseason form
Tribune photo by Phil Velasquez



Yesterday, news came out of Florida that may be the best news we've heard all Spring Training. Albert Pujols has a bad back. It doesn't appear to be too serious, but it's something, right?

When Albert Pujols and the St.Louis Cardinals acknowledged the seriousness of the pain radiating through the three-time MVP's back this spring by having him take an anti-inflammatory injection Monday -- with the aid of an MRI exam to get the location right -- it sent a seismic rumble from Florida to Arizona.

Aramis Ramirez weighed in on the situation:

''It's huge,'' Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez said. ''To me, he's the best player in the game. No comparison. If he goes down, it's going to be a huge loss for St. Louis. Hopefully he won't, though. You don't want that for anybody. But we should take advantage of that if he misses some time.''

I don't want Albert Pujols to be crippled, but I'd rather not see him at bat against the Cubs. Pujols isn't projected to miss too much time, and the Cubs don't play the Cards until Memorial Day, so we'll likely look back and realize that I overreacted.  But a man can dream, can't he?
In news of the Cubs, Ryan Dempster looks ready to start the season after yesterday's start.

Cubs right-hander Ryan Dempster threw 93 pitches over 5 1/3 innings on Tuesday against the Royals. He gave up two runs on four hits and three walks while striking out six.

"We're not very far away -- it's only two more starts before the season starts," Dempster said. "I enjoyed that. It was good to pitch in every situation and work through some stuff. It was a fun day."


In better news of the Cubs, Aramis Ramirez returned to real action yesterday, and didn't miss a beat.

Aramis Ramirez was 2-for-3 Tuesday in his first game since March 13. He was the designated hitter and singled in his first two at-bats, driving in a run in the fourth.

"I felt pretty good out there today," Ramirez said.

Ramirez has been sidelined because of a sore right tricep and is doing limited throwing. Lou Piniella said he expects Ramirez to be back at third by Friday. Piniella also would like to get Ramirez about 30 more at-bats this spring.

"I don't need 30 at-bats," Ramirez said. "Five more and I'll be ready to go. I haven't played in 11 days, 10 days and I felt pretty good today. I don't need that many at-bats."


As far as the bullpen in concerned, don't expect to see any moves made before the start of the regular season. Jim Hendry feels confident with the staff he's got in camp.

The Cubs appear no closer to acquiring a veteran reliever for their young bullpen than they were when they got to Mesa last month.

But enough pitchers have performed well enough this spring -- Tuesday's three blown saves by three different guys notwithstanding -- that the need is looking less urgent to team officials, especially given the difficulty in making a quality trade during spring training.

''Guys have done really well. I think the competition for those rotation jobs are all better than they were a year ago,'' general manager Jim Hendry said. ''I'm more comfortable now with the pitching than when we got there.''

Now that everyone's happy about the state of the bullpen, we've got more exciting news concerning the rotation.

The Cubs are expected to make the call on the final two opening rotation spots Friday, with Carlos Silva and Tom Gorzelanny expected to be the starters at this point. That would send Sean Marshall and Jeff Samardzija to the bullpen.

As disturbing as that all might seem, there is some good news in the realm of the Cubs' pitching staff.

It looks like Lilly might get those two starts he wants before the Cubs break camp, but if so, they'll come on the minor-league side of camp.

The lefty, who had minor shoulder surgery in November, is scheduled to make his first start of the spring Saturday in a minor-league game.

He's expected to pitch two innings and likely would make his second start April 1, two days before the Cubs break camp.

''If there are no setbacks, we're on target for the second half of the month of April [for a return to the rotation],'' said Piniella, who has the guys in his opening rotation going too deep into games the next time through to start off Lilly in Cactus League games.

In other random bits, Carlos Silva threw his side session Tuesday and reported no problems, and look for Xavier Nady to start his first game in the outfield tomorrow. Hopefully his arm won't fall off.

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38 Comments

gravedigger said:

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Carlos Silva and Tom Gorzelanny are in the rotation. We're going to win all 162 this year.

JulieDiCaro said:

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In starting bad pitchers!

Doc said:

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A little self promotion...to go along with today's main headline...

I talk out of my ass about Albert Pujols.

AndCounting said:

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Is that a real picture from spring training or a promo shot for Glee?

JulieDiCaro said:

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My favorite part is the WAY-too-tan chick in the green hat, who is helping out by screaming at the top of her lungs.

keywestcubfan said:

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She's screaming, "Look at my decollatage!!

keywestcubfan said:

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Whoops. Decolletage....

JulieDiCaro said:

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Can I just ask what Sean Marshall has to do to get in the $@#*@#%@#$ rotation?

gravedigger said:

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You should try asking Jim Hendry that. Oh, wait, you're a lowly blogger. nvm

Doc said:

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No you can't...because the answer would make you sad.

Edelweiss said:

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It may be that he gets into the rotation somewhere along the line. When a player whom most of us think should be starting is not, there is sometimes a reason that Piniella does not wish to divulge. The Cubs need middle men, and Marshall is very good at that.

DustyBaylor said:

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Well...I think he's a better pitcher out of the bullpen, but geez...the guys at #4 and #5 right now..:
Silva
Gorzelanny
Marshall
Spellcheck
makes me kinda woozy.....not in a good way..

gravedigger said:

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This is one of the reasons I drink a lot.

plamorte said:

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This is similar to Sox fans and Joe Nathan. I like Pujols, hell of a player but oh he's hurt? Man that's too bad....

JulieDiCaro said:

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Yeah, I'm all broken up about it. Not.

gravedigger said:

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If he missed the season for some kind of injury then signed with someone in the AL and got better and never missed another game, that would be fine with me.

The Dugs said:

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If he goes down, they'll just convert another sub-standard pitcher to a 30+ HR every day hitter.

*FACEPALM* How is Rick Ankiel even possible???

Doc said:

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Ankiel is nothing.

Eric From The Dugs said:

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Agreed on he was a flash in the pan.

Agreed on the PEDs (this was confirmed right?)

But if you gave Carlos Marmol PEDs, he wouldn't be hitting 30 HRs. He'd be striking out, even if he'd be doing so at a much higher velocity (a K instead of a k). That should have never happened.

Also Jeff Weaver going to the Cards and being touched by God for a limited time...

JulieDiCaro said:

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Just wait until you see Rich Hill this season.

*dan bradley said:

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If Pujols is ever full strength he will pitch, too. From first base. His curveball is that good.

JulieDiCaro said:

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i would laugh, but this is probably true.

Eric From The Dugs said:

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Ha!

Crying because it's true...

Just pictured Rich Hill as a bodybuilder and laughed out loud a lil bit.

AndCounting said:

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Not necessarily. He did come up as a catcher. I'm sure he could hit a tiny bit.

JulieDiCaro said:

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I don't know how you said that last voice, but in my head, it was totally in Frank Grimes' voice.

LostinFla said:

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Not that I am a big fan of Pooholes, but since the Cubs winning anything would be like hitting the lottery, I’d rather win 50 million than 3. So I’d rather the Cubs beat a good St. Louis team in the NLDS (with a good and healthy Pooholes) as opposed to the Cubs squeaking by the equivalent of a Mundelein College alumni team. I’d buy the t-shirt in either case.

JulieDiCaro said:

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Do we really NEED a game thread today? I'm too tired to do one.

flyball said:

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its spring training, I believe once you've done your work in the morning you're allowed to go golfing

DustyBaylor said:

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Nope...how about we all just chime in at various times with random comments?

JulieDiCaro said:

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I love this plan, I'm excited to be a part of it.

DustyBaylor said:

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I'm enjoying some laisez faire by design...and I'm subscribing to your newsletter Julie...excellent!

JulieDiCaro said:

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actually, i'm more "too lazy" than "too tired."

i suspect I won't be jazzed up about a game thread again until real baseball starts.

every time someone makes that newsletter joke, i can't help but think of David Sedaris' "Glenn's Homophobia Newsletter," my favorite piece of writing ever done in the English language, hands down.

gravedigger said:

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yeah, right. when the season starts you're gonna be all "mark, can you please do today's game threat for me again" and i'm gonna do it like always.

DustyBaylor said:

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Hmm...so I shoulda said "lazy faire" instead....damn....lol

Dmband said:

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In the pic above, look at the guy in the bottom right hand corner, making the phantom catch...the ball is no where near him, but in his mind he just made the greatest catch ever.

Good for you, sir.

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