Notes: Cards wave bye-bye to DH
Team happy to look at hitters now without rule exception
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Cardinals have been taking advantage of the waiver that allows teams to use the designated hitter during Spring Training games until now in order to get extra looks at hitters. But that came to an end on Sunday.
"We're done with DH-ing," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said.
With the season three weeks away, La Russa wants his pitchers to start getting game at-bats.
But what will that mean for veteran Juan Gonzalez, who has served as DH more than any other Cardinals player this spring?
"[It] means Juan plays in the field," La Russa said. "He may be the regular right fielder."
Gonzalez said that he's ready to do whatever it takes to make the team. The 38-year-old is trying to win a roster spot as an outfielder and pinch-hitter.
As for the DH, La Russa's feelings on that topic are clear. He'd like to see both leagues have the same set of rules.
"Absolutely," La Russa said. "We're the only major sport that has different rules. [Make it] one or the other."
If he had his druthers, La Russa would prefer the DH to be scrapped for good.
"I think it's more of a game when the pitcher is in the lineup," La Russa said.
Izzy gets in: Jason Isringhausen made his second appearance of the spring, but this one didn't go as smoothly as his first.
The right-hander gave up three runs on three hits and a walk in one inning. He struck out two and surrendered a three-run home run to Scott Thorman.
The Cardinals closer did more cardio work this winter than in previous years.
"The big difference is I'm healthy this spring and can do what I'm told," Isringhausen said. "The hip [surgery] is a year out, I feel better in that sense."
Sunday's blemish notwithstanding, the Cardinals closer believes that he is on track to be ready for the season.
"I'm ready to go, pitch a few more games and get ready to open the season," Isringhausen said. "I feel like my arm's in shape."
Barton rolls on: Brian Barton continues to hit the ball hard. Against the Braves, he had a two-run triple in his first at-bat, the outfielder's third extra-base hit in as many plate appearances. He had a double and triple on Saturday against the Dodgers.
Overall, Barton, a Rule 5 Draft choice (Indians), is batting .391 (9-for-23). His 17 total bases are second on the team behind Albert Pujols (21).
In his last five games Barton is batting .600 (9-for-15) with a double, two triples and a home run.
Extra bases: Chris Duncan was held out for the fourth consecutive game due to a sore back. "[He'll play] tomorrow or the next day," La Russa said. "He'll be OK, better safe than sorry." Duncan hasn't played since March 5. ... Anthony Reyes getting scratched from Sunday's start because of flu-like symptoms enabled La Russa to get a look at another young pitcher that the Cards like, right-hander Clayton Mortensen. "He's got a good arm and shows good movement," La Russa said. "He's competed well." ...
Following Sunday's game the Cardinals reassigned infielder Brian Barden, left-handed pitcher Ron Flores and outfielder Amaury Marti to the Minor League camp.
Quotable: "Good players is the No. 1 key. I've seen a lot of guys who are really good coaches finish last. I think it's love of the game, trying to learn it. Nowadays you've got to really pay attention to the people." -- La Russa, when asked for the common denominator among all the successful coaches in sports he's known over the years
Weather report: Another beautiful day for baseball is in the forecast for Monday when the Cardinals play Atlanta at Disney's Wide World of Sports at Lake Buena Vista, Fla., at 1:05 p.m. ET. Game time temperature is expected to be 68 degrees with north winds at 10 mph.
On deck: Adam Wainwright will be on the mound for Monday's "Florida Turnpike Series" finale against Atlanta and Jair Jurrjens. Mike Parisi, Russ Springer, Randy Flores and Jason Motte will follow Wainwright to the hill.
Jim Molony is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.