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Notes: Eldred sees little action06/08/2004 9:46 PM ET
By Matthew Leach / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- Cal Eldred knows what it's like to go several days without pitching. He used to do it all the time.
Back when he was, you know, a starter.
As for this latest stretch, it's a little strange, even though Eldred is remaining a good soldier about it. Entering Tuesday night's game against the Cubs, Eldred's last outing was exactly a week ago -- June 1 against the Pirates in Pittsburgh. He had worked his way into some semi-regular work in late May, and perhaps not coincidentally, he also enjoyed a solid run at that time. But since a May 30 blowup in Houston, in which he permitted four runs without retiring a batter, Eldred has pitched once.
It's a concern, not only because he wants to pitch, but because he wants to be effective when he does pitch.
"I'm just gonna try to stay sharp," he said. "It comes with the territory. You don't want to throw too much (on the side) because you might be used for more than one inning. That's the way it goes.
"But there are a lot of good things that come along with that, as well. The fact that the team is playing well, guys are throwing well in the bullpen. This is a game of matchups, and when they have the right matchup they're gonna go with the matchup. That's what they're doing. I've just got to try to stay sharp."
Kiko Calero has impressed the Cardinals with his middle-inning work, decreasing the opportunities for Eldred -- who has struggled at times. Now it's become a catch-22. Eldred needs work to be sharp, but manager Tony La Russa would be hesitant to use him in a tight situation because he hasn't had enough work lately.
"I know it's been a while since he's pitched, but when the starters are going as strong as they are, it's the best kind of problem," said La Russa. "He's a pro so he'll deal with it."
Asked what situation would be best for Eldred at this point, the manager said simply: "one where the game is not on the line. It's been a while since he was out there."
Renteria ill: Tuesday might have been a fine opportunity for Edgar Renteria to get a day off -- he's 1-for-24 lifetime against Cubs starter Matt Clement. But if it was in doubt before Renteria arrived at the ballpark, the issue was resolved when the shortstop showed up.
Renteria is feeling ill from a stomach bug and was held out of the lineup on Tuesday. It's unclear whether he will be available to start on Wednesday afternoon.
"He's pretty sick today," said head trainer Barry Weinberg.
Pujols update: Another day, more progress for Albert Pujols. The first baseman continues to feel less pain in his strained left hamstring, and it's looking less and less likely that he will have to head to the disabled list. As for a return date, it's probably still a matter of days -- but that's better for Pujols and the Cardinals than weeks.
"He's made some improvements today," Weinberg said Tuesday. "He's a little better today than yesterday. We'll just take it day by day. We were happy with the improvement he made today. He's a little less sore. He's able to do some resistance stuff without pain. We'll just see how he is tomorrow.
"He needs to get pain-free. Then we'll start some movement stuff, and if that's pain-free ... it's walk before you run. We'll get him started playing catch, taking some swings off a tee. If those aren't affected, progress to batting practice."
Baby 'Birds: Adam Wainwright was roughed up for four home runs in 5 1/3 innings as Triple-A Memphis lost, 9-7, to Iowa on Monday. John Gall went 3-for-5 with a home run for the Redbirds. ... Double-A Tennessee was held to four singles in a 5-1 loss to Greenville, with Luis Martinez allowing all of the G-Braves' runs. Dan Moylan reached base three times for the Smokies. ... Shaun Boyd went 3-for-5 to lead an 11-hit attack, but Class A Palm Beach lost, 5-4, in 10 innings to Dunedin. ... Daric Barton and John Santor had four hits each as Class A Peoria pounded Battle Creek, 14-2.
The player of the day, for the umpteenth time, was Barton. The Cards' first-round pick in last year's draft went 4-for-5 with two homers and three runs scored in the Chiefs' big win. Barton is hitting .423 with a .539 on-base percentage and a .746 slugging percentage in his first year of full-season pro ball. He has six homers, five doubles, 20 RBIs and 19 runs scored in 71 at-bats.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.