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Rasmus congratulated after home run against Astros

July 25, 2011 -- Cardinals' Colby Rasmus is congratulated by teammates including Daniel Descalso as he returns to the dugout Monday after driving in a run with a ground out in the second inning during a game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Houston Astros at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Mo. Chris Lee clee@post-dispatch.com

As trade reports and potential interest swirl around the Cardinals' young center fielder, what Colby Rasmus has done on the field to elevate the Cardinals will have to suffice as his statement.

He has no interest in talking about it.

Rasmus slugged his second homer in as many days, drew a key walk and made a deft diving catch in center field during the Cardinals' 10-5 victory Monday against Houston. Afterward, Rasmus twice declined to talk to reporters.

"No talking for me, fellas," he said. Asked later why he declined to comment, Rasmus said: "What if I don't feel like talking?"

Rasmus has spent the past month at the epicenter of news with the Cardinals, from his prolonged slump to manager Tony La Russa broadcasting the help Rasmus sought from his father to a report Sunday afternoon of the Cardinals entering him into trade talks. The Post-Dispatch reported that the Cardinals had discussed with the Chicago White Sox their willingness to trade Rasmus. The Washington Nationals have also recently had eyes on him, and he has been linked to the Tampa Bay Rays. The Cardinals' front office has stated it is not making Rasmus available for trade.

Before the game, La Russa was asked if being discussed in trade reports for the first time can be trying on a young player. The manager said it's important for players to "ignore the media" and be "ready to play."

"If you take it personal," he said, "then it can have an effect."

Rasmus, who requested a trade from the Cardinals last season in a fit of frustration, declined to disclose if this trade talk was a reason for his no comment.

This past week, the 24-year-old Rasmus said he was "just trying to play" through what has been one of the more protracted slumps of his pro career. Before cracking a homer Sunday in Pittsburgh, Rasmus had hit .181 with a .345 slugging percentage and more strikeouts (42) than hits (32) in his previous 200 plate appearances. Rasmus' struggles at the plate have allowed Jon Jay to capitalize on increased playing time.

Rasmus singled, homered and scored two of the Cardinals' three runs in a 4-3 loss Sunday at PNC Park. Back in the starting lineup Monday — only the second time in eight games that he has started on consecutive days — Rasmus drove in the Cardinals' first run with a ground out to the right side to score a runner from third. In the fifth, he bruised reliever David Carpenter with a two-run homer that put the Cardinals ahead 8-1. The homer was his 11th of the season.

La Russa lauded the look of his swing Monday, a difference from the brief power jag Rasmus had at the end of June.

"Just basic," the manager explained. "There's nothing strange about Colby. He has a good strike zone. He takes his walks. He gets the ball in the strike zone. He gets the ball on the barrel."

In the top of the eighth, Rasmus made a diving catch in left center to rob extra bases from Houston infielder Jose Altuve. A miss and "that could be two runs," La Russa said. Instead it ended the inning with the Cardinals clinging to a three-run lead. Later Rasmus worked his way back from an 0-2 count to earn a walk and key the Cardinals' final rally. He scored his second run of the game on an RBI single by Skip Schumaker and added to the lead that his catch protected.

"When he has been really good this year, like he was in the first six weeks, he did that a lot," La Russa said. "Base on balls. That's just competing."

Like La Russa, general manager John Mozeliak has talked supportively of their former first-round pick and his potential impact on the team's pennant chase. The manager expressed Monday what teammates and others have said about Rasmus repeatedly, that he needs "confidence to carry over."

"I think he's enjoyed himself the past couple days," La Russa said.

Rasmus declined to say.

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