Rafael Furcal is set to join a corps of Cardinals middle infield candidates as early as Sunday, and incumbent shortstop Ryan Theriot says he's OK with that. Theriot has some experience in this area.
Last July 31, Theriot, then playing second base with the Chicago Cubs after having been their shortstop for four years, was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers. He lined up the next day with shortstop Furcal although that partnership was interrupted after two games when Furcal went out with a back injury, only to resume in September.
Now Furcal may be lining up next to Theriot again, after the Cardinals traded a minor-league outfielder yet to be announced to Los Angeles for Furcal and cash considerations.
Theriot, who completed the first back-to-back three-RBI games of his career Saturday, did so while making his first start of the season at second base for the Cardinals.
He was there, in part, manager Tony La Russa said, because Theriot's right shoulder has been balky lately.
But if it happens that Furcal comes in and takes Theriot's shortstop job, either moving Theriot to second or out of the lineup occasionally, Theriot said he won't object because he thinks that highly of Furcal, 33.
After going six for seven in the first two games against his other former team, the Cubs, Theriot said, "(Furcal) is a great guy. His track record speaks for itself. I was able to learn a lot from him and he's a winner. He plays hard and he plays the game the right way."
So, he's on board with the trade?
"Of course," said Theriot, smiling. "And if I wasn't, I have no choice."
La Russa and Theriot have talked in recent days, some of which when Theriot wasn't even playing, and they broached the possibility of Theriot playing second base.
"When my name's in the lineup, I'm going to go out and I'm going to play hard. I promise that," Theriot said. "I'll play whatever."
"That's the kind of player he is," La Russa said. "That's the answer you expect."
Theriot had been two for his last 41, nose-diving more than 25 points in his batting average to .263, before exploding for four doubles and a single in the past two days as he and the rest of the Cardinals have pulverized the Cubs. Theriot's first double Saturday off hard-throwing Jeff Samardzija in the fifth drove in two runs and a third runner scored on left fielder Alfonso Soriano's casual toss back to the infield as the Cardinals blew open the game in an eight-run frame.
"That was as big as anything that happened," La Russa said.
"He gets base hits and he gets clutch hits. That's what he did the whole first half and then he just went into this funk that was just so weird. This is more like him. He's spraying the ball all over."
Theriot said he had received some hitting pointers from Skip Schumaker, which probably isn't a bad idea since Schumaker's .347 average for July leads the club.
"It's been a rough couple of weeks," said Theriot, 31. "You search and look for something that's wrong and you finally realize that it's nothing and you get back to what you were doing.
"Schumaker and I had a little sit-down and he said a few things. I don't want to go into details because it's a secret.
"But it's good to have some fresh eyes. What we do is such a repetitive thing. You take hundreds of swings a day and you've been doing it for 25 years and when you get a fresh set of eyes, it helps.
"Everybody says baseball is a game of inches. Really, it's a game of millimeters. It can be such a small, minute thing which, really is nothing. But I've got it figured out and I'm feeling good."