CARDS EXTRAS

Cards Notebook: Wigginton renews playoff push

2013-02-22T00:45:00Z 2013-05-30T17:03:56Z Cards Notebook: Wigginton renews playoff pushBy Rick Hummel rhummel@post-dispatch.com 314-340-8196 stltoday.com

JUPITER, Fla. • Most baseball players likely would enjoy being listed in the top five of a particular statistical category. But new Cardinals infielder Ty Wigginton, who is No. 3 on his list, isn’t too keen about his ranking.

Wigginton’s category is most games played without making the playoffs and he is up to 1,315. Only Adam Dunn of the Chicago White Sox (1,721) and Vernon Wells of the Los Angeles Angels (1,601) are ahead of Wigginton as active players.

Wigginton’s timing hasn’t been too good. He played with the New York Mets from 2002-04 and the Mets then made the playoffs in 2006, after he had left. Wigginton was with Tampa Bay in 2006-07. The Rays went to the World Series the next year.

Wigginton went to Colorado in 2010, a year after the Rockies made the playoffs. Last year, he surely must have thought he had it made, joining Philadelphia, which had won five straight division titles. The Phils lost Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Roy Halladay and never competed.

Now, at age 35 Wigginton, who also has played with Pittsburgh and Baltimore, sits in a Cardinals clubhouse with players who have been in playoffs as early as age 22. He admits that he likes his chances this year. “Absolutely,” he said.

But he says he always has had this feeling in February.

“Every single year,” said Wigginton. “Hopefully, every player in the league feels that way in the spring. If you don’t, what’s the point of showing up in the first place?”

Wigginton said he had no intention of climbing higher in his category. “Hopefully, you can knock me off that list,” he said. “That’s my goal.”

FURCAL NOT TO SWITCH-HIT

Shortstop Rafael Furcal continues to be hampered by pain in his right elbow, and on Thursday the club suggested that the switch-hitter only bat from the right side of the plate, limiting the stress caused on his elbow by batting lefthanded. Furcal, who had a torn ligament in his elbow last August, said the latest soreness likely was related to too many swings on Wednesday.

“It still hurts. A lot,” Furcal said. “When I’m throwing.”

Manager Mike Matheny and Furcal have talked about him appearing as a designated hitter in the early spring games. National League teams are permitted to use the DH – which is an American League staple – through the first couple of weeks in the exhibition schedule.

ROOKIES TO PITCH SUNDAY

With righthander Shelby Miller backed off a bit because of some tightness in his shoulder, non-roster lefthanders John Gast and Tyler Lyons will be the first two Cardinals pitchers on Sunday in the second exhibition game against the Boston Red Sox.

Gast, who has one of the best pickoff moves in the organization, was 4-2 with a 1.93 earned-run average at Class AA Springfield last year and then 9-5, 5.10 at Class AAA Memphis. Lyons, whose 27 total starts were one fewer than Gast’s total, was 5-4 at Springfield and 4-9 at Memphis.

Matheny the day before had nominated righthander Trevor Rosenthal to face Miami in the exhibition opener and he said presumptive opening day starter Adam Wainwright would start for the first time against Houston here on Monday.

To the suggestion that Wainwright would be the starter for the first “real” game on April 1 at Arizona, Matheny said, “You’re welcome to make all the assumptions you want.”

MATHENY LOOKS FOR LEADERS

Much has been said and written about the Cardinals’ expected season-long loss of ailing righthander Chris Carpenter, both on and off the field. And Matheny confirmed that considerable attention had been paid to the loss of Carpenter’s leadership and that of Skip Schumaker, Lance Berkman and Kyle Lohse.

“We’ve been intentional about trying to do that, realizing that without (leadership), we’re setting ourselves up for failure because we have to have it,” Matheny said.

“So it will be guys who were leading before, continuing to do what they did. I’ve been very impressed to see some of these guys step up already.”

MILLER ‘WAY BETTER’

Miller threw off flat ground on Thursday and is expected to throw a regular bullpen session on Friday. He said he felt “way better than I have, that’s for sure.”

Rick is a baseball writer/columnist at the Post-Dispatch 

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