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Friday, April 18, 2008

A first: Glaus gets the hook

Having just been doubled-switched out of a game for the first time he can recall in his career, Cardinals third baseman Troy Glaus had some time to kill late in Thursday's game.

He ducked into the batting cage and worked on what ails him.

"That also was a first," Glaus said. "I went to the cage during the game and started hitting. Figure it out, you know. There are some flaws in it right now that we need to fix."

Glaus was the culprit in two prematurely truncated rallies Thursday, going 0 for two with runners in scoring position and grounding into double plays both times. Rallies in the first and seventh innings ended with him as the Cardinals lost 5-3 to Milwaukee in 10 innings. Glaus' average tumbled to .218, and he's still without a home run as a Cardinal.

More telling, he is hitless in his last eight at-bats with runners in scoring position.

"I think he's trying to hit a home run, lift the ball into the air, and that's not his real good stroke," manager Tony La Russa said.

Hitting coach Hal McRae was blunt: "He's struggling. His timing is off. His timing is a little late. Pressing is always a factor. You press so you don't relax."

On the most recent road trip, Glaus had a hit in every game he started but one. He ripped off a string of six RBIs in the first five games of the seven-day jaunt. Yet in nine games at Busch Stadium — Glaus was acquired from Toronto for Scott Rolen in the offseason — Glaus is hitting .194 with two RBIs.

Glaus rejects a new-home hex.

It's when, not where, that's the trouble.

"It's just off," said Glaus, describing his swing. "I'm out in front of the hard throwers. I'm behind with the slower throwers. It's just a little bit off right now. The timing just isn't there yet. ... Certainly I could be better. There's no doubt about it."

Glaus is the righthanded power bat the Cardinals craved this offseason, a power threat to stand watch behind Albert Pujols and force opponents to deal with one of them. Against lefthanded starters, such as the Brewers' Manny Parra on Thursday, Glaus is the cleanup hitter. He shifts to No. 5 against righthanders. And location has had its privileges.

Glaus entered Thursday's game as the only hitter in the National League with more than 20 at-bats with runners in scoring position this season (he had 24). On the road trip, Glaus had four hits in his first seven at-bats with runners in scoring position. Since, he has lacked a knack for timing.

In the eighth inning Thursday, La Russa needed a double switch to keep pitcher Kyle McClellan in for more than one hitter.

The manager recited his options: "Is it (Rick) Ankiel? Is it (Albert) Pujols? Then, Glaus."

Glaus had just bounced into his second double play of the game to end the previous inning, and though La Russa saw improvement Thursday, Glaus described his swings as a beat slower than Wednesday.

That's what sent him to the cage for some soft toss with assistant hitting coach Mike Aldrete.

"It's just a matter the pitches I was fouling off, now I'm just hitting them poorly," Glaus said. "My timing is just a tick off. It takes one swing, one at-bat, and everything lines up and you remember what it feels like when it's right."

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