Notes: Clement upbeat about recovery
Glaus takes first swings as Card; outfield competition healthy
JUPITER, Fla. -- Matt Clement professed optimism on Monday, despite pitching coach Dave Duncan's Sunday proclamation that he did not expect Clement to start the season in the Cardinals rotation.
Clement will back off his throwing program in the early days and weeks of Spring Training. Rather than throwing a bullpen session every other day, he will throw a bullpen, take a day off, throw long toss, take a day off and return to the mound. The program is intended to help him gain arm strength as he returns to active pitching following 2006 shoulder surgery.
"It's the beginning," Clement said. "I think if anything, I look at it is, I don't want to say take a step backwards as much as, we're going to be smart with this."
Clement wasn't the only one maintaining an upbeat tone. General manager John Mozeliak also soft-pedaled the news from the previous day, arguing that it's simply too early to tell what Clement's status will be on March 31.
"I would say it's a little premature to determine whether he's going to be ready or not," Mozeliak said. "We still have six weeks [to go]. In a meeting with our medical staff, it is about strength. I can't tell you today if he's going to be ready or not. I just think that to say that all of a sudden the skies have darkened isn't really fair."
This much is clear: Clement will be somewhat behind the Cardinals' other starters, and he is extremely unlikely to pitch a Grapefruit League game in the first turn through the rotation.
"That's a concern," said manager Tony La Russa. "But his arm strength isn't there, and we're just going to have to do what we can to get it back as soon as we can. I'm not sure how long it will take.
"It's one less guy. We were excited to get him here, still excited to have him. It just means there's an opportunity for somebody else in a couple of those games that he would have started. We'll see who takes advantage of it."
Clement will follow the staff's directions, but he was insistent that he plans to be a part of the team's rotation sooner rather than later.
"When I signed here, I signed here to pitch, not to be a rehab project," he said. "If it means I have to start the year rehabbing, or however it may be, I'm not going to totally rule it out altogether. This might jump and be perfect one time through this rotation. Any fatigue I'm feeling right now might be just from trying to pack so much in a certain amount of time.
"It's not the end of the world."
Still the same: Mozeliak said that Clement's situation doesn't change his club's stance regarding available free-agent pitchers. Kyle Lohse, Jeff Weaver and Josh Fogg remain unsigned, among others.
"I'd be kidding you if I said I haven't had some dialogue with these guys," Mozeliak said. "But at the moment, it still doesn't really change what we're trying to accomplish. If I felt this was something that was a major setback or some guaranteed uncertainty, then I think obviously we'd have to re-evaluate where we are."
Within camp, the range of options also remains unchanged. Instead of three candidates for one starting spot, the Cards now have three pitchers vying for two openings in the rotation. Anthony Reyes, Todd Wellemeyer and Brad Thompson remain the leading contenders, with anyone else little more than a long shot.
One effect, however, is that a bullpen spot likely now opens up. Chris Perez and Cliff Politte are likely the pitchers with the best shot at that job, unless the Cardinals decide they want a third left-hander, such as Ron Flores, or a long man, such as John Wasdin. Righty Kyle McClellan, who has caught Duncan's eye, could also be a dark horse.
Glaus swings: Troy Glaus took his first swings in a Cardinals uniform on Monday, taking the field with the other early arriving position players for some batting practice. St. Louis is the fourth team for Glaus in five years, so he's gotten used to new clubhouses.
"It's still kind of like the first day of school," he said. "There's a lot of names in here of a lot of guys that I do know. None of them, except for Adam [Kennedy], real well. But there's a lot of names in here that I recognize.
"We're all ballplayers. Everybody knows how it goes. Everybody's been in clubhouses."
Healthy competition: The Cardinals have seven outfielders with a viable shot at making the Opening Day roster -- Chris Duncan, Rick Ankiel, Skip Schumaker, Ryan Ludwick, Brian Barton, Colby Rasmus and Juan Gonzalez. Of those seven, five could at least see some time in center field. Only Duncan and Gonzalez are not options in center.
And they all want a shot.
"He wants to play center field," La Russa said when asked about Ankiel. "He already told me he's going to win that spot. I said, 'OK, now I've heard that four different times from four different players.' That's what's going to make it an interesting competition."
The four, for those wondering, would be Ankiel, Schumaker, Ludwick and Rasmus. At the time La Russa made the comment, Barton was just walking up to report to camp for the first time.
Arrivals: Players continued to trickle in on Monday, which was report day for infielders and outfielders. By the end of the work day on Monday, every position player had been heard from, and all but Gonzalez had at least dropped by camp. Gonzalez is expected to be present when workouts begin on Tuesday.
Weather report: The Cardinals again dodged bad weather on Monday, as forecast thunderstorms never hit the Roger Dean Stadium complex. Tuesday's forecast, however, is even less forgiving, calling for showers all morning. It will also be cooler, with high temperatures only reaching the low 70s.
Coming up: Full-squad workouts begin on Tuesday, but for many players, the day gets off to an extra-early start. Infielders and outfielders undergo physical exams starting early Tuesday morning. La Russa is likely to address the team before it takes the field, and the workout should get going sometime in the 10 a.m. ET hour.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.