Cardinals Spring Training: Doug's take on Albert, knuckleballs and french fries
St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols, left, and second baseman Skip Schumaker warm up at the start of practice during spring training baseball on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2010, in Jupiter, Fla. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson) By Jeff Roberson
St. Louis Cardinals hitting coach Mark McGwire talks to the media during spring training baseball Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2010, in Jupiter, Fla. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson) By Jeff Roberson
St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols smiles as he walks off a field during spring training baseball on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2010, in Jupiter, Fla. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson) By Jeff Roberson
Members of the St. Louis Cardinals run sprints during spring training baseball on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2010, in Jupiter, Fla. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson) By Jeff Roberson
(KMOV.com) -- Albert Pujols has sure been in a good mood this spring. He's been all smiles, bouncing around doing interview after interview. He talked with us on 1380 radio this morning for about 30 minutes. There are always a lot of demands on Pujols time, so he can't always do everything the media wants him to do, but he has never been better about trying to accomodate all the tv, radio, newspaper and internet reporters.
I asked him this morning if, as the game's best hitter, he still gets nervous sometimes when he hits. He said there are only three situations in which he gets nervous; for his first at bat in the first spring training game of the year, his first at bat in the regular season, and his first at bat of the postseason.
Pujols didn't appear to be very nervous during batting practice today. At one point he hit four opposite field homeruns on four consecutive pitches. He would have had a fifth straight homerun, but John Jay leaped and caught the ball above the fence.
We got our first look today at the Cardinals knuckleball pitcher Charlie Zink throwing live batting practice. He throws a knuckler faster than I've seen anyone else throw it. That makes it a pretty dangerous pitch when he can't control it, which seems to be pretty often. Zink almost hit Matt Holliday in the head with a pitch. He threw 40 pitches today with Holliday, Skip Schumaker, Tyler Greene and Allen Craig hitting against him. Holliday had the best swings against him, and hit one ball about 400 feet to leftfield for a homerun.
Today's celebrity guest was Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer, a resident of nearby Palm Beach. He talked for awhile with former Baltimore Orioles teammates Dennis Martinez, Dave Duncan and Dyar Miller. He also watched Cardinals pitchers throw off the bullpen mound. Palmer is 64 years old now, and could pass for 40. He still looks like he could pitch. He's done a lot of commercials over the years and is currently a spokesman for the national "Strike Out High Cholesterol campaign. I should probably listen to what he has to say about cholesterol. I'm on a 9 day french fry eating streak that shows no sign of ending any time soon.