Dennis Schutzenhofer's job is simple in theory: Throw strikes.
The 63-year-old retired high school teacher is one of the Cardinals' batting-practice pitchers, throwing to the likes of David Freese, Jon Jay and Allen Craig before every St. Louis game -- road and home.
"Those guys want the ball down the middle and at a consistent speed," said Schutzenhofer. "Line drives up the middle or to the outfield gaps mean that I'm doing my job."
Now in his 12th season with the club, Schutzenhofer earned full-time status with the big-league staff in 2006 after retiring from teaching chemistry and coaching baseball in the nearby Belleville (Ill.) School District.
His baseball acumen helped many high schoolers develop into college or professional athletes, including Cubs pitcher Randy Wells, former Boston slugger Brian Daubach and former 49ers All-Pro cornerback Eric Wright.
Schutzenhofer's warmup ritual before throwing batting practice consists of lying on his back and rolling around, throwing against a screen to a specific spot, windmilling a bat and finally playing catch with a fellow coach.
Endurance is critical, as he's expected to throw 150-175 pitches during each batting-practice session. Last season, Schutzenhofer threw BP for more than 200 Spring Training, regular season and postseason contests.
What's been the secret to Schutzenhofer's durable arm?
"I take a couple ibuprofen for the inflammation," he said. "It makes me loose, and when I'm throwing well, I feel like an 18-year-old."
-- Gabriel Kiley