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News » Ludwick is hoping to play daily Cardinals' manager has been rotating four outfielders into the three starting spots.


Ludwick is hoping to play daily Cardinals' manager has been rotating four outfielders into the three starting spots.


Ludwick is hoping to play daily Cardinals' manager has been rotating four outfielders into the three starting spots.
PHOENIX - As he has done several times with players this season because of his constantly shifting lineup, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa pulled outfielder Ryan Ludwick aside to explain why he wouldn't start Tuesday.

The manager's message: Trust him.

"I asked him, 'What does it take to play every day in the big leagues?'" Ludwick said. "I want to be that guy. Everybody wants to be that guy. And I want to do what it takes to get there. He said, 'Trust me.' And I do. Look at what happened last year. I trusted him, and I played."

With La Russa siding with a lefthanded-laden lineup against Arizona starter Max Scherzer, Ludwick did not start for the third time in nine games. La Russa has grown weary of the daily lineup kerfuffle, but he conceded it's routinely a close call with Ludwick. The outfielder is coming off an All-Star season with 37 homers and a .299 average. He also takes a 17-game hitting streak into his next at-bat. He has four multi-hit games already this season, including two for four Monday.

La Russa has worked to rotate four outfielders into the three starting spots this spring, and he stresses the true division of labor can be better judged at the end of the first month, not the first week.

"Of the four outfielders, he'll play more than the other three," La Russa said. "This doesn't take anything away from who he is. He's not a platoon player. I'm sure he wants to play more. But if he keeps taking at-bats like he has, you'll see he'll get a lot of playing time. ... His focus has to be on being as good as he was last year ... when he became an everyday player."

La Russa pointed to the 538 at-bats Ludwick had last year - third-most on the team - and stated his purpose now is getting four outfielders into the flow. He wanted to make sure Ludwick didn't misread not starting Tuesday as a lack of "confidence in him." For Ludwick, who was an All-Star last year before he was an everyday player, it's a continuation of the past couple seasons, only this one came with the conversation and the trust that he'll get what he earns.

"We're winning ball games, and we're getting everybody involved and that's important," Ludwick said. "I'm going to make the most of it."

BARDEN FEELING BETTER

After two years of feeling less explosive between the bases and lacking power at the plate, Brian Barden is starting to feel like himself. He credits the surgery he had in November. Barden, whose solo home run in the eighth inning Monday gave the Cardinals a 2-1 victory, had a procedure to repair a hernia that had been diagnosed years ago as an abdominal strain. He sought a second opinion this winter after a couple years of feeling the discomfort. A Diamondbacks' team physician performed the operation and Barden said he's "just not getting to the point where the strength and speed are coming back." Barden's home run Monday was his first in the big leagues, and it came against his original team, Arizona.

a $60 MILLION INFUSION

Cardinals president Bill DeWitt III gave a preview of this summer's All-Star celebration at a breakfast seminar Tuesday hosted by the St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association. There will be a concert by the riverfront the Saturday before the game, a 5K "fun run" the following day, and plenty of miniature replica Gateway Arches done up in All-Star logos and team colors. The America's Center downtown also will host a "fan fest" open all week.

"It's like the Winter Warm-Up times a thousand," DeWitt said.

Tickets for the game itself are at a premium. Only about 1,000 tickets - less than 3 percent of the regular capacity at Busch - will be available for purchase by the general public through an online lottery, DeWitt said. He estimated the midsummer classic will inject $60 million into the local economy. The Cardinals will share their direct revenue with the league's 29 other teams.

SPORTING "42"

What Major League Baseball has made mandatory for today, the Cardinals had already made customary on previous Jackie Robinson days. The commissioner's office has told all 30 clubs to have every player wear No. 42 today as part of the annual celebration of the Hall of Famer who integrated Baseball. Wearing "42" - which has been retired across Baseball - was always an option for players one day a year. The Cardinals have always elected to wear it as a team, and more than 30 away jerseys were ordered this year with the "42" on the back.

"Nobody was more important in the game than him," La Russa said.

---

Cardinals at d-backs, late ? Game did not end in time for this edition.

---

TODAY'S PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUP ? Cardinals at Arizona, 2:40 p.m., Chase Field, FSM

JOEL PI?EIRO RH ? 1-0, 2.70

The Cardinals' righthander has learned to love the sinker. In his first start of the season, Pi?eiro pitched 6 2/3 innings and of his 20 outs 14 came on the ground and two others were strikeouts. He's 1-0, 3.71 ERA in his career vs. Arizona.

Jon Garland RH ? 1-0, 3.86

Signed as a free agent this past winter, Garland is a durable addition to the Diamondbacks' rotation. He's pitched at least 190 innings in seven consecutive seasons, and his 60 wins since 2005 are the eighth most in the majors.

(Page C7)


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 16, 2009

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