St. Louis Cardinals take on Nationals, Pujols out again


The Cardinals take on the Washington Nationals today, hoping to improve on the poor start to Spring Training. The club should get a lift from Albert Pujols, who will DH in his first action since Saturday. The star slugger missed the previous two games due to back problems.

Allen Craig will be filling in at first base for Pujols. It will be the first appearance this spring for Craig, who has been limited by quadriceps strain. He is among a talented group of young players battling for one of the final roster spots, and has some work to do to catch up. His power at the plate makes him an intriguing candidate to join the big league club.

Brad Penny will be locked in for his second start of the spring. In his first, the new Redbird struggled through two innings, giving up three runs. With the butterflies gone, expect Penny to give a more polished performance in his few innings of work.

From the Nationals side, keep an eye on former Cardinal Chris Duncan. St. Louis was the only team Duncan played for in his career, and it was tough for the organization to let him go. His father and pitching coach Dave Duncan was not pleased with how his son’s release was handled. Now, they’re all back together again for a quick spring exhibition.

The close feelings are still there for many in the organization. Tony La Russa wishes him well and said it will be awkward to see Duncan in the other dugout. He also worked out with Mark McGwire in the offseason.

Duncan will bat third for the Nats.

Here’s how the Cardinals will start off today:

1. Skip Schumaker, 2B

2. Felipe Lopez, 3B

3. Albert Pujols, DH

4. Matt Holliday, LF

5. Colby Rasmus, CF

6. Ryan Ludwick, RF

7. Yadier Molina, C

8. Allen Craig, 1B

9. Tyler Greene, SS

Penny, SP

*Note: Albert Pujols will not start as previously thought. He continues to have back problems. Matt Holliday will also miss today’s game because of soreness. David Freese takes Pujols’ place as DH and Nick Stavinoha will start in place of Holliday.