Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Midweek notes

* Before tonight's game, a few Cardinals players were debating who is the fastest player in the majors. One mentioned Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutcheon. Two others nominated Padres rookie Luis Durango.

* Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa probably would like to adopt David Eckstein. "He's the toughest guy I've ever been around," LaRussa told me today. "He's a winner." Eckstein, as you may recall, won the World Series MVP award with the Cardinals in 2006.

* How did Padres prospect Logan Forsythe suffer a hand fracture last month? He socked a bat rack.

* Anger-driven hand injuries are becoming a Padres tradition. Khalil Greene fractured his hand two summers ago by wacking a storage chest (the Padres, trying to recoup Greene's wages, contended that Greene injured himself on purpose and may have done so one other occasion). At the Astrodome in 1995, Brad Ausmus fractured his hand when he punched a water cooler.

Padres farm director Randy Smith said Forsythe, who moved from third base to second in spring training, had been playing adequate defense. This isn't Forsythe's first major injury. Trying to hustle up a single in his first week of pro ball, Forsythe went headfirst and tore up his thumb. Padres exec Grady Fuson described that one as a "dumb move."

* My sleeper pick for Padres second baseman of the future: Single-A shortstop Drew Cumberland, 21. I wrote two years ago that Cumberland's propensity for throwing cutters argued against a long-term stay at shortstop, but his upside at second base is intriguing to the Padres. When Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera went to Lake Elsinore on rehab recently, Cumberland moved to second base. It's his future home. Cumberland is a good hitting prospect. He has pretty good arm strength. He runs well. As part of the Padres' system-wide emphasis on aggressive baserunning, Smith challenged Cumberland to steal 40 bases this season. He has 16 SBs in 21 attempts.

* Subject for another day: Umps' habit of calling strikes on 3-0 pitches that aren't strikes. Never has made any sense to me. Happens a lot, and saw two more in the fifth inning tonight. First one was a lifeline for pitcher Kevin Correia with the bases loaded and Matt Holliday batting. To his credit, Correia went on to strike out Holliday. In the bottom of the inning, Adrian Gonzalez was temporarily denied a walk on a 3-0 pitch that looked questionable.

* One good way to learn seamhead stuff about a team is when the Cardinals are the opponent. Their pitchers usually excel at attacking a hitter's weaknesses. The Cardinals also excel at defensive positioning. Chase Headley is a singles hitter at this point, and that's how the Cardinals defended him on Tuesday.

* When I write about Bud Black and his coaches changing the team's baserunning culture, astute plays such as catcher Yorvit Torrealba's stolen base on Tuesday come to mind. Baserunners aren't eager to challenge Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina. Torrealba, though, made a shrewd read and swiped second. He got an incredible jump.

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