ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals got to the last day of the season without needing Adam Ottavino. While that was disappointing to the rookie right-hander, it's good news for the team.

Ottavino spent much of the second half of the season rehabilitating from a shoulder injury, and recently threw a simulated game. When it appeared that the Cardinals might not have enough pitching to make it through the season's final week, Ottavino was activated from the disabled list to pitch in case of emergency. The emergency never came, though, so Ottavino will go into the winter without having gotten in a game since July 3.

"Four starters in a row pitched outstanding, got us deep in the game, so we're protected," manager Tony La Russa said. "I will be reluctant to put him out there unless I have no choice. He was throwing under control during that thing. He was probably throwing in the 80s. He gets out there today, you think he's going to [do that]? He's going to rear back and fire. I want to try to avoid that."

Ottavino understood the decision, and is pleased with his condition as he goes into the offseason. He'll have to do some extra work, but he does not expect to have a winter of rehabilitation.

"I'm trying to keep it as normal as possible, but I don't think I can ever really slack off in what I'm trying to do," he said. "I'm trying to make sure I keep everything strong and not get completely too comfortable. I feel good, but it's just adding to my list of things that I need to do ever year."

La Russa takes swings against Carpenter

ST. LOUIS -- If it wasn't already clear from the relaxed atmosphere at Busch Stadium that Sunday was the season's final day, the fact came into sharp focus at about 11:15 a.m. CT.

That's when Chris Carpenter took the mound to throw batting practice. And manager Tony La Russa stepped in to be the first batter to face him. La Russa put down a bunt and took some cuts, but didn't make any significant contact.

"You lay the bunt down and get the guy over, right? And that's what I did," La Russa quipped.

Carpenter threw just fine, but it was obvious he wasn't used to throwing BP. Despite having a screen in front of him, he ducked down and to his left after each throw to avoid being hit.

La Russa curiously mum on coaches' status

ST. LOUIS -- As cagey as Cardinals manager Tony La Russa has been about his future in St. Louis, he's remained just as tight-lipped about his coaching staff.

One of those is par for the course. One is unusual. La Russa has, throughout his time with the Cardinals, refused to tip his hand about his own plans until each season came to an end. However, he's typically been more forthcoming about his coaches. His reluctance to commit would seem to indicate that if La Russa is back, he could have some turnover among his coaches.

"You can't say one without the other," La Russa said. "You can't discuss the other without explaining your situation. If I'm not coming back, then it's up to the new manager.

"If I am back, then I think that's why you make a quick decision. They need to figure out what they're doing."

Aside from hitting coach Mark McGwire, the rest of the Cardinals' full-time coaching staff has been together since the 2002 season.

Tidbits

ST. LOUIS -- Retiring Busch Stadium organist Ernie Hays was recognized in a pregame ceremony on the field on Sunday. ... Dennys Reyes was listed as unavailable for the final day of the season due to both a personal matter and some elbow discomfort. ... Manager Tony La Russa said he felt that his club won about as many games as it ought to have in 2010, given what it endured. "With the way the coaches and I evaluate how we played, what we did right, what we did wrong, I think we're about where we should be," La Russa said. "Now, if we had been a losing club, then I would have had real problems with that. But we ended up getting some wins at the end."