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Friday, April 18, 2008

Springer improves

APRIL 2, 2008-- Russ Springer #36 congratulates teammate Yadier Molina #4 after beating the Colorado Rockies.Reliever Russ Springer felt encouraged by his first throws off a mound since going on the disabled list, and he knows he's going somewhere to pitch Monday. Saturday, he'll find out where. Springer is on the 15-day DL with nerve inflammation in his right elbow, an irritation that caused numbness and tingling in his fingers. Springer will face hitters in a simulated game Saturday. Afterward, the team will decide if he's set to travel with the team on its road trip, which starts Monday, or head for a brief rehab assignment.

"I don't anticipate any problems," Springer said. "But we'll evaluate after that. I told them I'd be honest with them if my arm is ready or if I need another look at hitters before they activate me."

Springer's return bolsters a bullpen that has been a buttress for the club's 11-5 start. To make room for the righthander, it's likely the Cardinals will have to choose between Brad Thompson, who took the loss Thursday, and Anthony Reyes, a former starter who has rediscovered success in relief.


Lefty Mark Mulder joined the parade of pitchers on the DL making appearances this week at Busch Stadium. Mulder threw in a standard bullpen session Thursday, preparing for his start Sunday with Class AA Springfield. Mulder was tepid about his first rehab start, a five-inning outing for High-A Palm Beach on Tuesday. "You go two or three games and they're good, and then there's one that's OK," Mulder said. "That's like the other day. I'm working toward consistency." Mulder threw 61 pitches Tuesday and will increase that pitch count. He's at least a start from throwing 85 to 90 pitches, the usual target for a final start of spring training.


Rookie Brian Barton, who started in left field Thursday, has been working to improve his throwing accuracy. Barton has been working with coach Dave McKay on trying to restore what Barton described as his natural throwing motion and having a consistent release point so that it's the same with every throw, no matter what base or what cutoff he is throwing toward.


FSN Midwest's plan to televise tonight's game in high definition has been scuttled, and the network will look to schedule another game for an HD telecast. In a news release, the network said the game still will be broadcast on the "standard definition" FSN Midwest schedule.


Rick Ankiel's 17-pitch at-bat Wednesday against Milwaukee's Carlos Villanueva was the longest plate appearance by a Cardinal in the past 20 years, according to research done by Viva el Birdos, a fan-produced blog. Using information back to 1988 available at, the blog concluded that Ankiel's 17-pitch walk was the first to last longer than 15 since Mike Difelice faced Bartolo Colon in June 1997. ... Albert Pujols extended his hitting streak to nine games with a single in the seventh inning. Pujols has reached base in all 16 of the Cardinals' games this season. Pujols' on-base percentage is .507.

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