Quick: what's a good Spring Training line look like for a pitcher? Is it this?
I'll certainly take it, but it illustrates the weirdness of the spring—because it's his first games back, because who knows who he's pitching against or what his goal is, it doesn't really matter that he's accomplished his scoreless innings via two strikeouts, three walks, and a hit batsman. Alas, poor Blake Hawksworth—the current team leader in innings pitched and strikeouts will have nothing to show for it.
In any case, it is good news. It'd be good news if Carpenter had thrown five innings and given up two home runs, because as a wise filmmaker once said eighty percent of spring training success is showing up. That he's yet to allow a run—that's just gravy.
Unfortunately for the Cardinals, our Fearless 2B Skip Schumaker is just about to run up against that tough 20% in his quest to keep Tony La Russa from wasting at-bats on him in the outfield. After his start on Wednesday Wellemeyer provided the impetus for a little Schumaker-related soul searching:
"During the season it's not acceptable. It's all there is to it. I don't think (manager) Tony (La Russa) will have it," Wellemeyer said.
And now we're left to play the tea leaves, wondering what each start at second base means for each second baseman. This afternoon, in the first half of a split squad doubleheader, it's Skip at second and Thurston at third, not to mention a cameo appearance at DH for ex-front-runner David Freese.
Thurston, if nothing else, seems like a prime candidate to make the team at this point in the spring; La Russa's "found" him at-bats at multiple positions, considerably more than any candidate but Tyler Greene, and he's done well with them. If he gets the La Russa Seal of Playing-out-of-Position Approval at shortstop, or Schumaker doesn't get the seal at second, opening a spot for a strict keystone guy, he's probably all set. To which I say: I just hope he plays defense befitting his waterbugginess.
Meanwhile, dark horse candidates like Barden and Hoffpauir have just about gone dark altogether. Despite hitting a combined .406, they've gotten one fewer at-bat combined than Schumaker; I can't see either of them making the team without another seismic shift in the second base runnings, although they'll presumably get a chance in today's second game. It's a shame—even though I made him into the replacement level in another entry I've always been intrigued by Hoffpauir's contact skills. Of all the current candidates, he's the one I'd be least surprised by if he ends up Ludwick-ing his way onto the team. 2008 was a major disappointment, but that doesn't mean his big 2007 didn't happen.
Anyway: no idea who the Orioles are throwing out there for each game, so let's go unorthodox for the floating heads:
Pineiro has to play himself back onto the home team's side of the Floating Head Table, y'know. On an unrelated note, there's a fun fanpost currently making the rounds to this entry's stage left—what's on your baseball playlist? For me, there can be only one: da naaa; da na na naaa.