Cardinals pitching prospect shows stuff in 5-4 loss

Monday, March 3, 2008

The St. Louis pitcher threw three scoreless innings against the Marlins.

JUPITER, Fla. -- St. Louis Cardinals pitching prospect Kyle McClellan gave a standout performance Sunday, even as the Cardinals lost 5-4 in a spring training matchup against the Florida Marlins.

Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa said he was impressed with McClellan's performance. McClellan started and pitched three scoreless innings using just 32 pitches, only throwing 10 balls.

After allowing a single by Hanley Ramirez and then a double by Dan Uggla to open, McClellan escaped unscathed in the first inning thanks to a tag by Yadier Molina of Ramirez on his attempt to score off Uggla's hit.

An ensuing double play off a Jorge Cantu grounder ended the inning. McClellan breezed through the second and third innings. He retired six batters in order, including three strikeouts.

Despite his youth, McClellan displayed notable patience Sunday.

"I just want to build the trust that they can rely on you to give you the ball or to call you up," McClellan said. "I think that's where a lot of that getting overexcited is. If I go out there and I get that opportunity and they say, 'This kid, he's erratic and his emotions get the best of him,' that's going to work against me."

McClellan received the opportunity to start due to Joel Pineiro suffering from a stiff shoulder and Matt Clement rebuilding his arm strength from 2006 right shoulder surgery.

McClellan has spent the last six years pitching in the minor leagues since being selected in the 25th round of the June 2002 free-agent draft. He missed most of 2005 and 2006 because of Tommy John surgery, followed by ulnar nerve transposition surgery.

McClellan might have less room for a chance to break into the rotation come opening day thanks to the positive morning progress reported on Clement, who threw his second bullpen session in three days Sunday.

The Marlins' top pitcher Scott Olsen, who has moved into the role of club ace after the trade of Dontrelle Willis, had a strong second outing of the season to record the win. He threw a scoreless three innings, allowing only one hit and no walks.

Four of the Cardinals' five hits went for extra bases. Third baseman Troy Glaus had a double and two RBIs, while Albert Pujols and Joe Mather also had doubles. Cesar Izturis added a triple.

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