Springer not in Cardinals' 2009 plans
Veteran hurler says club decided to go with younger options
ST. LOUIS -- Russ Springer has decided he wants to pitch another year -- at least one more year. The Cardinals have decided that it won't happen in St. Louis.
Springer, who entertained the thought of retiring as the 2008 season wound down, is energized once again and looking for a place to pitch. However, he told MLB.com on Friday that his overtures to the Redbirds have met with indifference, so he expects to pitch for another club in 2009.
"I loved the opportunity to play for the Cardinals and the fans," said Springer, who turned 40 earlier this offseason. "I did everything I can to come back. I told them I'd take a pay cut, play for incentives. And it just never went anywhere."
In a change of course, Springer's family will accompany him wherever he decides to pitch in '09. That opens up a wide range of possibilities that didn't exist before. In 2008, his wife and son stayed at their home in Louisiana, and in 2007, Springer chose St. Louis based largely on the care that his son, Jake, could receive in the area. Jake Springer is autistic.
"I want to put my family in a good situation to live," Springer said. "This is the first year in a while they're going to come with me. It opens up a lot of opportunities where I don't have to be able to drive home."
Springer said that he has "a couple" of contract offers on the table, and expects to receive perhaps two or three more by the end of the weekend. Although he's not ruling out pitching in 2010, he said he doesn't expect to ask for or commit to a two-year deal.
He may be more likely to head to the American League than to return to the NL, and playing for a team with legitimate postseason aspirations is a primary priority.
The pace of negotiations has picked up within the past week, Springer said. Still, he is disappointed that the same can't be said for negotiations with St. Louis. Springer had two of the most successful years of his career as a Cardinal, posting a 2.24 ERA in 146 appearances in 2007-08.
"They don't have any interest in bringing me back," he said. "That's fine. That's baseball. I enjoyed the time I played there and I made a lot of good friends there. I want to put myself in the best opportunity now to go out and play for a competitive team and maybe get to the playoffs. I feel too good not to play. I've worked as hard this offseason as I have in years. I've spent more time in the weight room than I have in the woods.
He'll be happy to keep serving as a sounding board for the young pitchers he mentored in the St. Louis bullpen, and he said he'll be pulling for them whenever he's not pitching against them.
But Springer isn't ready to hang up his spikes yet, so if he's not pitching in St. Louis in 2009, he'll go somewhere else.
"If my family could [always] come with me, I would play till they tore the uniform off me," he said.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.