Monday, March 26, 2007

The days of Knights and Tunas

JUPITER, Fla. - The St. Louis Cardinals' Triple-A club has found an interesting way to beat the South Florida heat. By starting their games at 10:00 a.m., the players clear the field before the searing afternoon sun is able to do most of its damage.

The Triple-A Cardinals, who call Memphis their regular season home, finished their game against Florida and were off the field before 1 p.m. on Monday. It's a nice deal for Cardinals fans, who can watch some of their top prospects in the morning, then enter Roger Dean Stadium and watch the big club.

Those who don't have a ticket for the big league game can turn the day into a minor-league doubleheader. The Dugout caught the end of the Triple-A game before headlining to a back field to watch the Double-A game.

The only drawback of these quasi-minor league doubleheaders is that they won't last much longer. Memphis will play a couple of exhibition games prior to the start of season - one of which will be against the big league club in Memphis - so they are shipping out earlier than most minor league clubs.

The Dugout ran into old friend Pop Warner for the first time this spring. Warner skippered Palm Beach last year before spending September in the St. Louis dugout as an extra coach for the World Series Champions. He's been bumped up to Double-A Springfield for this season and from the sound of it, he's taking almost the entire 2006 Palm Beach pitching staff with him.

Top-prospect Colby Rasmus, who ended 2006 at Palm Beach, is also slated to start the season in Springfield, as is former first-round draft choice Tyler Greene, a shortstop. Greene started 2006 in Palm Beach, but was sent down to Quad Cities after hitting .224 over the season’s first 71games.

He's apparently performed well enough this spring to leapfrog Palm Beach and head to Springfield. The Dugout isn't sure why he struggled so mightily in Palm Beach, but he wouldn't be the first player to say he simply didn't see the ball well at RDS.

Final note: Bill Parcells and Bobby Knight shared a skybox for Monday's Grapefruit League contest between St. Louis and Florida. The Tuna has seen a couple of Cardinals games this spring, but as far as The Dugout knows, this was the first General sighting. Knight kept RDS soundboard operator Ross Howard busy by requesting an obscure song be played over the public address system. To his credit, Howard took less than an inning to track down the song. No chairs were thrown and Knight isn't believed to have threatened to fire anyone. Wasn't General Tuna a character in the board game Clue???

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