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07/27/11 12:33 AM ET

La Russa: Rasmus doesn't listen to coaches

ST. LOUIS -- Continuing an ongoing saga, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa told a St. Louis television station on Tuesday that outfielder Colby Rasmus "doesn't listen" to the team's coaches. It's the latest development in a lengthy series for the third-year center fielder, whose name has long swirled in trade rumors.

Speaking to KSDK TV-5 in St. Louis, La Russa was largely complimentary of Rasmus until the end of the interview. He spoke of Rasmus' bright future and said that the club is not shopping Rasmus.

At the end, however, La Russa was asked whether Rasmus is listening and responded tartly.

"Well, he's listening to somebody," the manager said.

Asked whether Rasmus is listening to the Cardinals' coaches, he was more direct.

"No, he doesn't listen to the Cardinal coaches much now, and that's why he gets in these funks, in my opinion," La Russa said. "If he would just stay with [basically] what they teach, he would have ... but I actually feel concern for him, because he hears it from so many places, he's got to be confused."

Rasmus requested a trade during the 2010 season and was reportedly on the radar of rival clubs over the past offseason. This year, he's been the reported target of a variety of teams as the non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches.

Descalso getting some work at shortstop

ST. LOUIS -- Daniel Descalso started at shortstop on Tuesday for the sixth time this season as Cardinals manager Tony La Russa continues to show confidence in the rookie's ability to play multiple positions.

But the decision to play Descalso at shortstop against the Astros goes beyond his versatility; Descalso is hitting right-handed pitching better than starting shortstop Ryan Theriot, and with a right-hander on the hill for Houston on Tuesday, La Russa decided to go with the hot bat.

Descalso entered Tuesday's matchup against Houston hitting .288 with a .359 on-base percentage and a .408 slugging percentage against right-handers.

Theriot, though, has tailed off at the plate since the All-Star break, going 2-for-27 (.074) and reaching base at a .107 clip. Against right-handed pitching this year, Theriot is hitting .253 with a .298 on-base percentage, while slugging .308 and driving in 27 runs.

"His stroke is not quite there, so while he works to get it right, you give somebody else a chance to take some at-bats," La Russa said.

Descalso has played 75 games at third base this year, but he has seen time at shortstop and second base in recent weeks as La Russa looks for ways to get Descalso's bat in the Cardinals' lineup. While he is new to the position, Descalso feels like he's becoming more comfortable at shortstop with each opportunity.

"The more reps I get out there, the better I'm going to be," Descalso said. "I'm just trying to learn on the fly right now and just doing my best -- field the ball and throw it to first."

He's made two errors in seven games at shortstop entering Tuesday's action, but Descalso has shown flashes of being an above-average defender at the position and made a highlight-reel play at deep short to end Saturday's game against the Pirates.

"Every time out there I feel a little bit better," Descalso said. "You never know what your job is going to be when you come to the ballpark, but I'm just trying to stay ready to do whatever."

Holliday out with illness; Berkman exits early

ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals got back one outfielder on Tuesday in Lance Berkman, but lost another as Matt Holliday was held out of the starting lineup with an illness.

"Holliday doesn't feel well," said manager Tony La Russa before Tuesday's 3-1 win over Houston. "[He's been] throwing up."

Holliday showed up at Busch Stadium and tried to watch the game from the bench, but his illness was too much and he went home.

"[Holliday had] a lot of problems when he was here, and he left," La Russa said. "Before the game started, partly just because, I don't know if he's contagious or not, but just to get him out of here. He couldn't do anything for us."

La Russa was considering giving Berkman an extra day to rest his strained right rotator cuff, which he injured in his final swing on Sunday in Pittsburgh before sitting out of Monday's series opener against Houston. But with Holliday unable to play, Berkman was back in the starting lineup on Tuesday.

But Berkman left the game in the fifth inning after aggravating his sore right shoulder. As was the case in Pittsburgh, Berkman felt shoulder discomfort while swinging and took only two at-bats on Tuesday, going 0-for-2.

"He felt like he couldn't take a real good swing after that second at-bat," La Russa said. "He said he'd hang around, and I said, 'Why? If you're not going to swing, we may as well put the defense in right now.'"

Skip Schumaker moved from second base to right field to fill in for the slugger, with Nick Punto coming off the bench to take Schumaker's spot in the infield.

While La Russa wanted to take it slowly with Berkman as a precaution, Holliday's absence changed the circumstances. Berkman, though, came to the ballpark on Tuesday expecting to start.

"I assumed I was going to play today anyway," Berkman said.

Berkman, who leads the National League with 27 home runs and has a team-high 69 RBIs, assumed Holliday's role as the cleanup hitter.

Jon Jay got the start for Holliday in left field and hit second in the batting order. He finished the night 1-for-4 with a run scored.

The Cardinals, fortunately, have the luxury of four everyday outfielders in Berkman, Holliday, Jay and Colby Rasmus, and La Russa referred to the outfield as an "embarrassment of riches."

Holliday is hitting .310 with 14 home runs and 51 RBIs in 77 games and is reaching base at a .406 clip.

Cards optimistic Sanchez will return this year

ST. LOUIS -- Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak was optimistic about the possibility of Eduardo Sanchez pitching again this year, despite the injured reliever's rehab assignment being shut down indefinitely a little over a week ago.

Sanchez reported discomfort in his throwing shoulder during three rehab appearances with Double-A Springfield. The right-hander last pitched on July 12, when he threw two scoreless innings and fanned two before leaving with his pitch count at 26.

At that point, the club decided to delay Sanchez's return indefinitely. But on Tuesday, Mozeliak said he envisions a scenario where Sanchez gets back on a mound this season.

"I think there's a probability he will pitch this year," Mozeliak said. "I think at some point he probably will pitch."

The Cardinals would like to get Sanchez healthy this year as the club could use more depth in the bullpen.

"That's our goal," Mozeliak said. "We've got to operate that he's not necessarily going to be a contributor, but I do think from accuracy's standpoint, I do think there's a chance he could pitch in the big leagues this year."

Sanchez proved to be an effective reliever in 25 appearances before landing on the disabled list on June 16 with a right shoulder strain. Prior to the injury, the rookie had a 1.88 ERA in 28 2/3 innings and opponents were hitting .151 against him.

Lohse reports no problems after 'pen session

ST. LOUIS -- Kyle Lohse threw a bullpen session on Tuesday and reported no problems with his sore right middle finger.

Lohse made it through the workout without any setbacks, though he was careful not to put too much stress on his injured finger, which has a slight sprain of the ligament.

"I did what I needed to do," Lohse said. "Keeping my arm ready. I was selective with the pitches I want to throw."

Lohse first experienced inflammation in the finger during his July 19 start at New York, when he allowed four runs on 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings. The injury has not caused the right-hander to miss a start, and he said the finger is feeling better.

"I've got to keep doing treatment," Lohse said. "It's better this week than it was last week at this time."

Lohse is scheduled to start on Friday in the series opener against the Cubs. He is 8-7 with a 3.46 ERA in 20 starts but has lost five of his last six decisions.

Austin Laymance is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Obviously, You're Not a Golfer and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewHLeach. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.