Officials from Major League Baseball arrived in the Cardinals clubhouse today to set up for random drug testing. This is the second time already this spring the MLB has had people here for testing.
Tony La Russa usually does all the talking to the players before they take the field for the first official workout of spring training, but today La Russa had several of the veteran players address the squad. La Russa says he likes to do things differently sometimes. Among the players he had talk were Albert Pujols, Chris Carpenter, Skip Schumaker and Ryan Ludwick.
Brendan Ryan wore a soft brace on his left wrist today. He was in uniform, and shagged balls for awhile during practice but nothing strenuous. He says he could play if he had to, but he's going to take the cautious approach right now. Ryan recently had arthoscopic surgery on his wrist.
For the first time this spring some of the hitters faced live, or full speed batting practice pitching. Ryan Franklin was the first guy to take to the mound and throw. Franklin was limited to 30 pitches. Franklin was dominating last season until the final month, when he struggled a bit. But he is adament in saying that he was not tired, or worn down from overuse. He told me that he's never been a strike out pitcher, he always "pitches to contact", and it just seemed that every ball that was hit late in the season found a hole. Tony La Russa agrees. He said Franklin wasn't the only guy whose performance trailed off at the end, the entire team went into a funk. La Russa says he takes the blame for that.
Last year's first round draft pick Shelby Miller threw off the mound for the first time today. He was in high school last year and has zero chance to make the team right now, but he was impressive. The Cardinals paid Miller a boatload of money to sign, so they'll be very cautious with him. It's a little easier to be that way when the major league roster is well stocked with starting pitcher. Right now, there's absolutely no rush to move Miller through the system.
Tony La Russa had another celebrity friend in camp today with him. This time it was Dick Stockton, the longtime network sportscaster. Whenever you see Dick Stockton it's almost as though you're required to say "you know he's married to Leslie Visser". I must have heard that line five times today from different media guys. Yes, I know he's married to Leslie Vissar who is very beautiful, but Dick Stockton has had a hall of fame broadcasting career himself. Give him some credit for something other than being married to Leslie Visser. Stockton was behind the NBC microphone at the 1975 World Series when Carlton Fisk hit that homerun off the foul pole in leftfield at Fenway Park to beat Cincinnati. Pretty cool. He also met Boston Globe sportswriter Leslie Visser at that World Series. I probably didn't need to add that last part, but I didn't want to neglect Leslie... who is married to Dick Stockton.