Cardinals New York minutes – 06/23/09

Spoke with an anxious Kyle Lohse at exactly 31 minutes before he was scheduled to throw a bullpen session of about 60 pitches. The injured right-hander noted he is already throwing faster than the 76 mph he managed before going on the shelf a month ago. His wife is expecting their second child, a daughter, in October, an event Lohse hopes to miss.

Tony La Russa was predictably non-committal about what he will do with his rotation when Lohse is ready. He did note that Todd Wellemeyer “is not pitching as good as he can”. The manager is only telling Brad Thompson to “take the ball and help us win” and in terms of any implications is “leaving the other stuff out of it”.

On Jess Todd Brad Thompson: “He was already proven” as a starting pitcher, but “if we would have had five starters, he would have been a reliever”.

Word is that Memphis outfielder Joe Mather had wrist surgery in Phoenix the last few days after first having a procedure on his hamate bone last September. This makes 2009 a complete washout for a player about whom there were great hopes coming into the season.

I asked TLR about Rob Rains’ new book, “Tony La Russa: Man on a Mission”. “He put a lot of work into it,” was La Russa’s initial comment. “I read about 100 pages before I was tired of reading about myself.” He acknowledged he “read it in pieces” and offered several corrections. (Former ChiSox GM Roland) “Hemond and Dunc also read it as they were a part of it.” La Russa thought the recent years in St. Louis had less detail than his early years in Chicago and Oakland but overall seemed very favorable about the book. (Note: forum readers can win one of three autographed copies of the book for the best message board post in each of the months of June, July and August. More details here.)

Cards GM John Mozeliak is with the club and spent time of the field before the game chatting with his Mets counterpart Omar Minaya along with former Cardinal Eduardo Perez. La Russa noted that Perez has a “good feel” for the game and is a “natural for field manager”. He also commented that when with StL, Walt Jocketty tried to hire Perez for a front office position. Perez recommended both Joe Thurston and Juan Gonzalez to the Cardinals.

First impressions of Citi Field follow. TLR noted it was “supposed to play big”, but it “may not play as big in summer. It is a very fair park.” Both Chris Duncan and Khalil Greene noted that Shea was louder. Greene added that the acoustics of the closed Shea created “more energy” for both clubs. Brendan Ryan said the infield plays “a little fast, but is good”. All comments were positive, especially the predictable ones about the improved clubhouse over the below-average facilities at the now-demolished Shea Stadium.

Ryan was aware that he received some negative attention for his relay home late in Monday’s game. I saw the Keith Hernandez version on SportsNet New York. Ryan was well aware that he should have taken the throw turned sideways instead of with his back to the plate, but said the throw was breaking away from him. The shortstop commented that his intent remains to play “aggressive smart”.

When asked about Colby Rasmus’ catch on Monday, the manager called it “just good”, suggesting that the rookie “did not get back as well as he should.” Rasmus is not starting again Tuesday.

As La Russa was signing a baseball commemorating his 2500th win on Sunday and deciding which seat number from a block of tickets to select to send to a friend, he was asked about the feat. La Russa noted that two of his best friends, Tom Kelly and Jim Leyland “would have had 2500 or 2600 if they had been with my three teams. Both are outstanding.” TLR went on to reminisce about his “hellacious games” against Kelly’s Twins from 1987 through 1992.

La Russa was asked about the 1989 Oakland A’s reunion this evening, noting those three consecutive World Series clubs were “obscene” (ly good), winning 104, 99 and 103 games, respectively.

Rumors are that Troy Glaus is hitting down in Arizona, but having trouble making throws from third base. La Russa said that he had heard the same thing, but not directly. He made it pretty clear that Glaus won’t be back until he can play third base defensively.

The manager, an NL All-Star coach under Charlie Manuel, said he was told indirectly that Manuel “will talk to me and Joe (Torre) a lot about things.” He offered a quick “yes” when asked if he thought closer Ryan Franklin deserved a berth on the team. TLR also said that if Chris Carpenter “keeps taking the ball”, he should also be an All-Star. “I’ve seen many times when an injury is not held against a guy.”

Khalil Greene’s knee is ok. He was hit Sunday and Monday was the day if there was to be trouble. There was none.

Asked what characteristics make the ideal manager, La Russa mentioned leadership and personality as the two key factors. He would not name his ideal skipper, begging off by saying it would vary by the type of team provided.

The skipper stopped by Madison Square Garden during the day and was presented a jersey by New York Rangers general manager Glen Sather.

La Russa left four game tickets for Leslie West, famous as the guitarist and lead singer of the band “Mountain”. The skipper is interested in seeing the musical “Rock of Ages” on Broadway after his club’s current series ends.

Look for reports from’s Matthew Leach and the Post-Dispatch’s Derrick Goold, who are both with the team here in New York. Cardinals fans should be thankful for the breadth and depth of coverage of their team.