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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Glaus seeing doubles

PITTSBURGH • Troy Glaus is still looking for his first home run as a Cardinal, but it’s not for a lack of power. The new third baseman ripped a two-run double in the first inning Wednesday, giving him four doubles in four games and a share of the league lead with 10 doubles this season.

"He’s not hitting the home runs yet, so you look at the doubles," manager Tony La Russa said. "He’s making good contact. One just hasn’t left the park yet."

After taking a .218 average into the Cardinals’ home series against San Francisco, Glaus had eight hits in his next 20 at-bats, and five of those hits were doubles. A couple landed in the deepest gaps of the ballparks — a sign that as his timing has returned, so has his gap power.

Glaus has five seasons with at least 25 doubles. He took a .297 road average into Thursday’s game at PNC Park and "isn’t 100 percent good as he can be, but he’s a tougher and tougher at-bat," La Russa said.

"To me, they’re good swings," Glaus said of the doubles. "They’re good, solid swings. That they didn’t go three feet farther, whatever. But it’s a good baseline to start from. If you’re hitting the balls in the gap, then it’s a good, solid swing."


Shortstop Cesar Izturis took infield with no limitations Thursday and took cuts in the cage, swinging at balls on a tee. Izturis said he feels "weakness" in his right hand, but the numbness that followed being hit near the arm with a pitch Tuesday is clearing. Izturis plans to take batting practice today and could return to the lineup by the start of next week. La Russa said he’d like to avoid using Izturis in the field or as a pinch hitter for a few days, but he wouldn’t hesitate to trot him out as a pinch runner.


When Matt Morris came to Pittsburgh at the trade deadline line last season, he knew he was moving into a different role, but now he’s learning how to be a different pitcher. Arm surgeries and mileage have reduced his ability to burn hitters with fastballs and then "drop that yawker" in there, he said, referring to the curve he bent for 22 wins as a 27-year-old Cardinal in 2001.

"In the past, my arm would catch up to a lot of the mistakes (in mechanics)," Morris said. "Now the mistakes show. I really have to concentrate on allowing my arm to do the right thing."

Morris, 33, called his last start one of the worst of his career. He allowed eight runs in four innings against Florida. He has a 9.15 ERA in four starts this season, and in losing three consecutive he’s allowed 18 earned runs and 27 hits in 152⁄3 innings. His velocity is sitting in the mid-80s and he has had lapses of control. Making about $10 million this season, he remains in the Pirates’ rotation, set to start Saturday and feeling better after a recent bullpen session.

"Velocity allows you to get away with mistakes," Morris said. "Right now I’ve got to be as perfect as I can be as far as confidence."


Rookie Brian Barton made his first career start in right field Thursday, as La Russa put Ryan Ludwick in left and Skip Schumaker in center. All 12 of Ludwick’s previous starts this season had been in right field. La Russa opted to swap the two because of the ballpark, not because of the players. PNC Park’s right field features a two-story-high scoreboard that is 320 feet down the line from home plate. Left has a tricky notch where the bullpens meet the field at its deepest point, 410 feet. "Tougher to play left here," La Russa said. "Go with the more experienced guy."


Mark Mulder will start tonight, as scheduled, for the Cardinals’ Class AA affiliate, the Springfield (Mo.) Cardinals. Pitching coach Dave Duncan said the lefty will target 85-plus pitches for his third rehab start. Mulder is returning from a second shoulder surgery in as many seasons. … Albert Pujols’ walk in the first inning Thursday meant he reached base for the 23rd consecutive game to start the season, and it jumped his on-base percentage to better than .500. His best streak to start a season is 33 games, but his personal record is 48 — and that came in his rookie season, 2001.

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