Cardinals begin trek north

Friday, March 30, 2007
St. Louis baserunner Scott Rolen slid safely into home while Florida catcher Matt Treanor waited for the ball during the fourth inning Thursday in Jupiter, Fla. The game ended in a 4-4 tie after nine innings. (Charlie Riedel~The Associated Press)

JUPITER, Fla. -- Jim Edmonds finally looked ready for opening day, just in time for the St. Louis Cardinals to begin making their way north.

Edmonds got his first hit and RBI of spring training Thursday in the Grapefruit League finale for the World Series champions, who tied the Florida Marlins 4-4. It was only the fourth game for Edmonds, who missed much of the exhibition schedule while recovering from shoulder and toe surgeries.

But afterward, St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said he's still cautious with the eight-time Gold Glove winner.

"He's getting closer," La Russa said. "I think you live with doubts. When you walk around with no doubts, that's when you get sucker-punched. We'll watch him closely and we'll try to do the right thing."

A few days ago, Edmonds sounded doubtful about being ready for opening night because of the injuries that had kept him out of action since the World Series celebration.

Cardinals starter Kip Wells delivered during the first inning Thursday in Jupiter, Fla.

Now, it seems as though he could be in the lineup when the season begins.

"Things have been responding well," said Edmonds, who says the toe still pains him and acknowledges some extra shoulder stiffness from time to time. "There's some things that are getting stronger in there."

Scott Rolen went 2-for-3 and scored twice for St. Louis, which plays its Triple-A team at Memphis today, then stays there to meet the Cleveland Indians on Saturday before heading home to open their championship defense Sunday night against the New York Mets.

St. Louis starter Kip Wells allowed one earned run in 6 innings -- and his spring ERA actually went up, to 1.16. He yielded five hits and struck out seven, walking one.

"How about the whole spring by Kip? He's been impressive," La Russa said. "He's got a lot of weapons."

The Cardinals took a 4-2 lead in the ninth after getting three singles -- one of them an infield chopper -- and a run off new Florida closer Jorge Julio. But in the bottom half, after Miguel Cabrera doubled, Joe Borchard hit a two-run homer to tie the game for Florida.

The teams agreed not to play a 10th inning.

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