Minors report: Big arms moving to 'pen
Michael, Webber making transitions to relief roles
Right-hander Dennis Dove isn't the only Cardinals prospect to make the switch from starting to reliever. Dove, who has turned heads in big-league camp this year, will soon be followed to the 'pen by Mark Michael and Nick Webber.
Both right-handers are big guys with big arms, high draft picks whose performances have been good at times but who haven't moved up the ladder. So the Cardinals are moving them both to bullpen work, in hopes that something clicks with them -- much the way it did with Dove.
Mark Riggins, the Cardinals' Minor League pitching coordinator, explained the decision-making process that leads to a starter being converted.
"If you have a hard thrower, and he's kind of stalled out as a starter, [then you make the move]," Riggins said. "We want everybody to start. If they throw hard, we want them to start and get their innings."
Early spring Minor League rosters are subject to a great deal of change, but for the time being, Webber is ticketed for Triple-A Memphis while Michael is on the roster for Double-A Springfield.
On the move: Third baseman Travis Hanson has made an excellent impression since he was sent down to the Minors. Hanson, slowed by illness last season, had four hits in his first two games, including a mammoth home run, and has also played slick defense.
Names in the game Former Cards pitcher Cal Eldred won't go into full-time coaching any time soon, but he's helping out part-time. Eldred wants to wait until his children are out of the house before he commits to life on the road once again. But in the meantime, he's been lending an extra set of eyes to the Cards' Minor League staff, observing pitchers.
They're No. 1: Right-hander Chris Lambert is pitching in the rotation for Triple-A Memphis. He had a rough go in an intrasquad game that was his first start of the spring. Lambert was the Cardinals' first-round draft pick in 2004.
Stat machine: Right-hander Kelvin Jimenez, in big-league camp on a Minor League contract, has pitched six innings in Grapefruit League play without allowing an earned run. Only Randy Keisler and Kip Wells have pitched more innings for the Cards this spring with a 0.00 ERA.
What they're saying: "I think both of them have thrown the ball well enough, shown us enough that we're going to continue to try to get them in games. They're going to have to eliminate themselves." -- Pitching coach Dave Duncan, on Jimenez and Dove.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.