Cardinal baseball, from the girls
Tag Archives: Daniel Descalso
Little league practice schedules and reports from Jupiter’s Spring Training games: signs that the world is finally waking up from a long winter, and baseball’s back! …..almost.
Spring Training whets the appetite and refreshes the senses. Lineups, pitching reports, actual games on green grass with familiar faces (and some unfamiliar mugs) donning the birds on the bat… it’s all so surreal, especially with the backdrop of Florida palm trees.
While that’s all very well and tropically good (and I’m still crossing my fingers for the possibility of a quick pilgrimage to Florida), I find myself longing for the real deal: the true start of the 2012 season. The 2011 World Series Champions have a lot to prove. New manager and No Albert Pujols may top the list, but whether ESPN is interested or not, Cardinal Nation has a lot of curiosities about how this team will perform.
My Top 10 Highlights/Curiosities for the upcoming 2012 season:
10. Pregame interviews on Fox Sports Midwest: this is where the players get a chance to prove they have personality. Sink or swim, boys!
8. Eduardo Sanchez’ filthy slider. I fell in love with that pitch only to have it ripped away too early in the season last year. Please, oh please, let’s have a healthy Sanchez and many, many gorgeous dirty pitches out of the bullpen this year.
7. Mike Matheny management style. What attitude will this team have under Matheny’s reins? Will it be more youthful? Will the playbook be more predictable? One thing’s for certain, getting my non-baseball girlfriends to watch a game will be easier with Matheny front and center in dugout shots. (Cute manager? Heckya!)
6. Jason Motte, “The Closer”. Bearded, fidgety, always throwing himself off the mound with the force of that fastball. He makes me smile. Bring on the crazy-Motte! I miss watching him yell at his glove.
5. Lovable Lance at 1st – those are mighty big shoes to fill! Can Berkman be more than “adequate”? For his sake (and ours), I hope we never hear “Albert would’ve…” or “if Albert had been there…” Honestly, Berkman surpassed any and all expectations last year, so here’s hoping he can make us forget all about you-know-who.
4. Chris Carpenter attitude. Yes, he scares me. Yes, he has a mouth on him. But man, oh man, a game with Carp on the mound is like a baseball drug. He’s our bad boy, intense. fierce. And afterwards, please throw in a good dose of that sexy, deep, gurgly Carp-voice in post game interviews? Thank you.
3. Adam Wainwright back on the bump. Remind me again…How did we ever win the World Series without Wainwright?? Soooo glad he’s back. Soooo thrilled he’s healthy. The question now is can we expect him to pick up where he left off?? Pencil him into those pregame TV interviews ASAP. And also into those dugout shots. Ok? Ok. Good!
2. David Freese smiles. Is there anything lovelier? Especially those ginormous joyful grins of a walk-off win. Such a humble, talented, gorgeous MVP… and he tweets?!! (love!) Stay healthy, Dave, stay healthy!
…and for my #1 pick, I gotta say that I am most looking forward to seeing the return of my favorite familiar baseball sight: Matt Holliday digging in at the plate, Matt Holliday leg kicks, Matt Holliday launching ‘em into the stands, Matt Holliday digging for home, Matt Holliday… well, you get the point.
The boys are back! Almost. =)
Who is this guy and what did he do with Mitchell Boggs?
Today, Day 2 of the Cardinals Winter Warm Up, was a lot of
fun hard work!
Yesterday, I figured out the system and broke in my sparkly new media pass. Today, I put it to full use.
In between player interview opportunities, I branched out to explore more of the Warm-Up environment. By staking out some hallways and talking to folks waiting for autographs, I met a slew of wonderful Cardinal fans who were willing to answer all kinds of questions about their Winter Warm-Up experiences. (Be watching for the poll results in an upcoming post!) I also made an executive decision to postpone the transcribing of over 2 hours of player interview recordings from today in order to take lots and lots of photos – which was way more
fun hard work. ;)
The media room was hopping with visits from a phenomenal sampling of Cardinal players and one Mr. Bill Dewitt, Jr. Among those who stopped by:
- J.C. Romero
- Shelby Miller
- Matt Adams
- Brandon Dickson
- Daniel Descalso
- Mitchell Boggs
- Jason Motte
- John Jay
- Jaime Garcia
- Shane Robinson
- Lance Berkman
- and ….Matt Holliday
Some of the highlights/stand-out moments of the day (for me) included getting an introduction to our new pitcher, J.C. Romero, who made a wonderful first impression with his fun personality, making jokes about being “old” and doing a bang-up job of being a likeable character. Romero spoke honestly and openly about his desire to protect his reputation and to be a role model to kids. He’s a long-time friend of Yadier Molina (Romero teased “He’s my boy. I knew Yadi before all of you guys knew him.”) and made it a point to talk about his faith in God.
Stumbling upon a barely recognizable baby-faced Mitchell Boggs signing autographs for fans had me amused mid morning, as did the interviews with Jon Jay, Daniel Descalso, Jason Motte and Lance Berkman.
I was impressed by minor league pitching prospect Shelby Miller’s openly discussing how the suspension last season (alcohol related) helped him to realize his priorities and to make necessary changes in his life and “keep his head on his shoulders.”
Shane Robinson spoke to a small group of us, detailing his horrific outfield collision in a AAA ballgame last season and the recovery process involved, mentally and physically. Shane also shared the exciting news that he and his wife are expecting their first child in May, grinning nervously as he spoke about being a new dad.
And of course there was Matt Holliday. Matt spoke to a packed house of very determined journalists, so I knew my chances of getting in any questions were honestly hopeless. So, I climbed up on my chair and balanced on my tiptoes to snap a dozen (or hundred) fairly gorgeous shots of the birthday boy. Yes, Matt Holliday spent the afternoon of his 32nd birthday with ME…. annnnd a small multitude of Cardinal fans.
Okay, I’m keeping the post short tonight, because honestly? I’m exhausted – a good exhausted. It’s time for bed so that I can wake up and do it all again tomorrow! Winter Warm-Up, Day 3 – the last hurrah!
I leave you now with a slideshow of some of my favorite photos from today AND a promise to write more later! =)
Erika says: When Daniel Descalso made the Opening Day roster with the Cardinals, I had high hopes this Baby Bird would get enough playing time to impress both Tony La Russa and fans alike. I was not disappointed. Daniel has split his service between 2B and 3B, f lashing the leather with enough finesse to *almost* make me forget about a certain spinning shortstop. While not a sure thing at the plate, he has contributed some timely hitting, including extra bases. My predictions tend toward “realistic optimism.” So, for Dan Descalso’s 2011, I am hoping for a slight improvement through the year in batting average (currently .226) with more comfort and exposure to learning big league pitchers. Perhaps .260 isn’t too much to hope for? Already impressive with the glove, I expect more chills and web gem opportunities while Descalso has opportunities at the hotcorner during David Freese’ absence.
As far as nicknames, let the record show that I am a definite fan of creative player handles. The fact that Mr. Descalso has already garnered a slew of fan-approved alter-ego titles is evidence enough for me that Cardinal Nation has eagerly adopted one of my favorite Baby Birds. Early in the season, it was mentioned on a game broadcast that Daniel’s grandmother didn’t approve of the nickname Danny. *sigh*… I was partial to Danny Boy. However since then, new choices have popped up all over. DD, Dirty Dan and Disco, to name a few. While Dirty Dan certainly captures the scrappy, it’s a guy’s guy kind of name. Apologies to grandma, but Danny (Danny D, Danny Boy) still has a nice ring to it. And then there’s Disco… that cracks me up! (h/t @El_Maquino)
Honestly, if Descalso keeps playing like he has, I’ll call him whatever he wants.
Emily: I don’t have a lot of knowledge or feelings regarding Daniel Descalso, but I think we are all about to learn a lot more about him. The injury to David Freese (waaaah) likely means a lot more time at third for Danny D, so I assume I will grow to know him. Currently, I only know that he’s had some clutch RBI, made a few sharp defensive plays, and looks like a young John Mabry as he steps up to bat. Offensively, I’m not sure I see him even remotely making up for the loss of Freese, but it will be interesting to see how he grows and (hopefully) improves with more regular playing time. I think that he has the potential to be a true Cardinal favorite (that’s right — scrappy. I’ll just go ahead and say it!), but it’s too soon for me to tell how much I like him or how good he could be.
Cadence: Daniel Descalso. Where do I begin? I have been obsessing over Daniel since I met him at Spring Training. Mostly, I think it is because of how much he reminds me of John Mabry. If you follow me on twitter and haven’t realized this by now, then you just don’t pay enough attention. I love Triple D. Yes, that is my favorite nickname. I know everyone seems to enjoy Dirty D, but I prefer Triple D – Daniel Descalso Defense. I’m going with that after he snagged that ball at 3B on Saturday. He has made a couple plays like that, but that one in particular is when I decided I like that name. Besides, if people are gonna call Eduardo Sanchez’s pitches “dirty” can you really have 2 guys with the “dirty” nickname? I predict a good year for Mr. Descalso if he just keeps playing his game. Now that David Freese is on the DL…again…he’ll likely get more playing time at third. Even though he only has a .226 avg so far, he has had some big timely hits and some great games and I think he can continue to do that if he knows his role is more important. Good luck Daniel, not Danny – Grandma Descalso might get upset – I am rooting for you!
Angela: Dirty. Danny. D. Oh come on, how could you not fall in love with a nickname like that? It just sounds like a ballplayer – and not one from this day and age of “first letter of first name dash last few letters of last name” type nicknames (K-Mac, A-Rod, heck I even say K-Lo stitched into Lohse’s glove last night!), but a real ballplayer nickname that you would have seen running around in the mud back in the 30′s and 40′s. Dirty Danny D would have fit in nicely with the likes of Pepper “Wild Horse of the Osage” Martin or Frankie “Fordham Flash” Frisch.
In terms of what we can expect from Dirty Danny D? Honestly, so far with the bat he hasn’t been impressive, but I don’t particularly need him to be over the moon impressive there. Heck, Holliday and Berkman are still hitting over .400 after 29 games! What I do want to see from Descalso is solid D. He’s been filling in a lot at second with Skip Schumaker on the shelf, and while he hasn’t had out of this world defense, he’s made some pretty nice plays, and he’s made all the plays he’s supposed to. This isn’t a knock on Skip, this is just saying what we all know – Skip isn’t a great second baseman. Dirty Danny D has the skills to play an adequate to above average second base. That’s what I want… for now.
I mean, eventually you gotta do something with a nickname like Dirty Danny D… right?
There’s something to be said about how life can change in the blink of an eye. Yesterday was one of those days on many levels in my life. On a personal note, my family suffered the unexpected tragic loss of a dear loved one, much too young. Late breaking news of Osama Bin Laden’s death united the nation and brought spontaneous celebrations and outpourings of patriotism. And sandwiched somewhere in the middle of a day that will forever be remembered for everything else, there was baseball.
Being that this is a site about baseball, and if you’re reading this now, you are probably looking for something about baseball, let’s talk.
Heading into the weekend, Cardinal Nation was riding high. The Birds have been collecting wins at an impressive rate, winning 14 of their last 18 games going into Sunday, with a chance to get their first series’ sweep of 2011 against the Braves. A young bullpen surge from Fernando Salas and Eduardo Sanchez has helped distract from the ongoing crash-and-burn of Cardinal closer, Ryan Franklin. Jake Westbrook, the early weak link in our rotation, has picked up the slack and added two improved outings to his 2011 resume. Matt Holliday, solid as ever, has defied his “notorious slow starter” label and is batting .418 and slugging .646 with a.521 OBP. (Translated: Matt is hitting the ball and hitting it well.) Lance Berkman too, is absolutely killing it right now. On April 28th, Lance had another two homerun game, his THIRD multiple homerun game in this young 2011 season. Combine the offensive threat of Holliday, Berkman and one Albert Pujols with the scrappy play of newcomers Daniel Descalso, Nick Punto and backup catcher Gerald Laird and it was easy to see why Cardinal fans were smiling.
Even cautiously playing only 2 of every 3 games due to his having both ankles surgically repaired in the offseason, Freese has again reminded the Cardinals why they took another chance on him. David was batting .356 with 2 homeruns and 14 RBI as of yesterday’s game.
However, disaster struck in the 6th inning when Dave was hit on the back of his left hand by a fastball pitched inside, breaking his 3rd metacarpal. Estimates of recovery time for this injury are 6-8 weeks. Go ahead… take a moment and let it sink in. It took me a while too….
Can the guy be any unluckier? After months of grueling rehab on his ankles (both during the 2010 season injuries and then again after surgeries) Freese was finally back in the game only to be sidelined AGAIN. My heart goes out to him. After all, we were just getting past those “bubble wrap” and “injury prone” comments. Luckily we have some third base alternatives not named Albert Pujols to hold down the hotcorner until Dave heals yet another injured extremity.
Let’s not talk about how Ryan Theriot dropped that routine pop fly in the 9th inning yesterday, helping to earn down-on-his-own-bad-luck Ryan Franklin the loss after pitching a gem of an 8th inning that could have been a turning point in his string of unfortunate events. Nah…. We won’t talk about that.
And being that utility infielder Nick Punto, fresh off the DL himself, was also pulled from the game yesterday as a precaution for hamstring tenderness, we won’t talk about our dwindling supply of infielders. (Although watching Albert Pujols briefly patrol 3rd base yesterday was an enjoyable oddity.)
All good reminders not to take anything for granted… in baseball, or life.
Get Well Soon, David Freese!
Have a blessed Monday, Cards fans.
|Skip Schumaker making kids happy|
Those of you that know me a bit know that I get really excited about the beginning of the baseball season. First day of Spring Training? Check (I wore red). First spring game? I found ways to watch that silly little Gameday box from my desk at work (and I wore red). First televised game? I again snuck peaks at the game (despite being unable to listen to most of it) from work (and wore more red).
Each and every first made me smile, caused me to comment, and gave me reason to talk about baseball a little more than usual. But when the game ended and the final score was posted, I shut it down. I didn’t fuss that too many men were left on base or get irritated at why Tony used this reliever instead of that one. Because it didn’t matter. Spring records mean nothing (although I imagine being incredibly bad or blowing everyone out would turn heads). I have no idea what the standings look like for the Grapefruit League, nor will I be looking them up anytime soon.
It’s not that I don’t care. I’m trying to guess my way through those last few roster spots just like everyone else. I have been looking at various names/faces/statistics, but every time I start to get wrapped up in it I remember: Never fall in love too early in spring. Two weeks ago I was pulling for Lance Lynn for the rotation, Daniel Descalso to be the last bench player, was genuinely concerned about Lance Berkman, and still found little reason to trust Kyle Lohse. Since then I changed my mind… on all of those. But let’s look at one at a time…
Pitchers: I am a huge Kyle McClellan fan. Really. I want him to succeed in whatever role he finally lands in. However, it seems that every year he gets put into the rotation mix during Spring Training, I pull for someone else. Why is that? It’s because I constantly fall into the belief that while fifth starters can be found through any number of ways (and the Cardinals have a history of… interesting… fifth starter names over the past few years), strong and reliable workhorse bullpen arms are a little tougher to come by. I don’t doubt Boggs and Motte. I love those goobers and the flaming fastballs they shoot out of their arms like cannons. I do at the same time love that McClellan can use an assortment of pitches and be the kind of setup man that TLR loves to have and use.
I was pulling for Lance Lynn to have the kind of spring that Jaime Garcia did last year. After watching him today, I’m still unconvinced that he absolutely couldn’t do it. His outing was okay, 4 innings, 3 hits, 2 runs and 4 strikeouts is nothing to be super critical of, but not eye opening either. McClellan has done nothing but mow ‘em down. I want it to be McClellan. I suppose I’m pulling for Fernando Salas to get that last spot in the pen, but as Derrick Goold noted this afternoon, the team hasn’t decided yet. I’m not sold, but I feel better about this all now than I did a couple of weeks ago, that’s for sure.
The other pitcher discussion has to be the combination of Jake Westbrook, Garcia, and Lohse. Quick, if you would have picked one of those three to have a strong spring, which would it have been? I would seriously laugh if you had said Lohse. NO ONE saw it coming. Will it last into the regular season? I certainly hope so. I don’t expect him, Westbrook or Garcia to take the place of Adam Wainwright (*sniff*… I’m okay, it’s dust or something), but feeling like we could rely on him to be more like the pitcher we saw in 2008 would be fantastic! Is it time to get concerned about Westbrook feeling like he hasn’t really been able to get his pitches under control or Garcia not feeling worried about his not great start or not working counts well? I suppose that time is getting close. The games are starting to mean something (even if the final scores still do not).
Outfield: Color me not really worried about the outfield. Holliday and Rasmus are obviously just fine, and I think Berkman will be too. He probably cannot and really should not be playing every game like he thinks he can, but I feel confident enough in Jay and Craig being the other two outfielders that it should work out nicely. Should Berkman go down, it would not be the end of the world. I just hope he doesn’t. That’s all.
Infield: The four starters are clear – Pujols, Skip, Theriot, and Freese. No questions there. The two bench spots are the trick. Most assume that Tyler Greene will take one of them, but then it comes down to Daniel Descalso or Matt Carpenter. At the beginning of spring I would have said Descalso, no question. I fell in love too early, then felt Carpenter sweep Cardinal Nation collectively off our feet. He’s not on the 40 man roster, but man, he could be. The fans like him. The front office likes him. Tony likes him (and his work ethic… so… he’s the anti-Brendan?).
Dang. There had to be a ‘but.’
Carpenter plays third. In reality, he only plays third. We have a third baseman by the name of David Freese. Freese has obviously had his share of boo-boos and injury mishaps, and the team is taking care of those and shielding him from doing too much too soon, but really, do you want two players on your team that only play third base? Greene can play second and short, but Descalso can play second, short, and third. Versatility will get you everywhere on a Tony team, just ask Aaron Miles.
Is there a right or wrong answer as to who to take north? I’m not sure there is. The point will most likely be moot anyway whenever Nick Punto (Yeah, I forgot about him too) comes off the disabled list. Both players have played well. Carpenter has gotten more print, but both have averages over .300, both have played solid defense. If you want to argue logistics, then fine – Descalso has experience at the big league level, although very limited (11 games and 37 plate appearances), while Carpenter hasn’t played a game above AA. That is definitely a factor.
Don’t sell either short. However, just because the games are starting to mean something doesn’t mean it’s been long enough to fall for either player.
That’s why they play the games.
|Finally back after 5 long years!|
|Yadier Molina – you can’t tell here, but I
swear his eyes were closed!
|Me & Daniel Descalso|
|Me & Mark Hamilton|
|Me & CJ Beatty – sorry it’s not the best,
|Me & my friend Kristin at Roger Dean Stadium|
Wow! This seemingly harmless little poll adventure caused quite its share of drama and controversy. Apparently some of the UCB bloggers (not naming any names…. Mr. Ivie) were hoping to see their names on the ballot. (We love you, but this was just for the Cardinals players, guys…)
Franky was awesome about it, and you really gotta love a Cardinal player who actually, you know…. tweets with fans. (ahem… @MattHolliday7? where you been???)
So in the fashion of Will Leitch (in his hilarious baseball book “Are We Winning?”…. which I highly recommend, by the way) let’s take a look at what we have learned:
1. Even playful crush polls, much like junior high, can ruffle some feathers.
2. Write-ins and options for “other” will not cover you.
3. Men DO vote in crush polls but get more fun from stirring up trouble.
4. Ryan Franklin (and his goatee) are both very good sports.
But enough about that….
|Courtney presents Freese with the trophy!
Dave is speechless but beams with pride. ;)
The results of our 2011 Ultimate Cardinal Crush:
1st place ( 34% of the votes) — DAVID FREESE (the hot hotcorner with the delicate ankles)
2nd place (14% of the votes) — Yadier Molina (it’s YADI!)
3rd place ((11% of the votes) — Skip Schumaker (aw, it’s Skipperdoodle!)
4th & 5th place (tied with 9%) — Jaime Garcia and Daniel Descalso
Honorable mentions go to Lance Berkman (7% of the votes), Chris Carpenter (5%), Matt Holliday (3%), Ryan Theriot (2%) and Jason Motte (2%).
Thank you for voting!!!
And Congratulations to David Freese. I promise I did not stuff the ballot box.
Cardinal Fans: if you haven’t chimed in on the Cardinal Approval Ratings for our friend Daniel at C70 At The Bat, get on over there! This is his third year to take the pulse of Cardinal Nation, getting our opinions on key members of the team and organization. It’s a quick poll, no crush questions involved. ;)