Hoping for a 'Marquis' pitcher

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

JUPITER, Fla. -- Jason Marquis is getting a fresh start with the St. Louis Cardinals, but he doesn't see it as a make-or-break opportunity.

The 25-year-old right-hander, acquired from Atlanta in December along with prospect Adam Wainright and reliever Ray King for outfielder J.D. Drew and catcher Eli Marrero, threw batting practice Monday in front of manager Tony La Russa and pitching coach Dave Duncan.

After going 8-9 with a 5.04 ERA as a starter in 2002, Marquis struggled last season. He made just two starts in 21 appearances and spent much of the season at Triple-A Richmond, where he was 8-4 with a 3.35 ERA. For the Braves, Marquis was 0-0 with a 5.53 ERA.

Now, he's projected to be the No. 5 starter for St. Louis, though that's not a given. St. Louis has three former starters -- Jason Simontacchi, Dan Haren and Kiko Calero -- waiting in the wings if Marquis fails.

"I intend to pitch to my ability and show them that I belong here," Marquis said. "I try not to put pressure on myself. I try to go out there, give them what I have and let my natural ability and instinct take over."

La Russa and Duncan like the potential for Marquis, whose fastball can reach 95 mph.

"It is a nice time in his career for him to put it all together and he will get that opportunity here," La Russa said.

"I expect Jason to take the ball 30-plus times and give us a chance to win every time out," La Russa said. "He has youth on his side, he has talent on his side and he had some nice experience with the Braves."

Marquis threw batting practice for 15 minutes. Among the hitters he faced was Albert Pujols, an early camp arrival who last week signed a $100 million, seven-year contract.

"For the first time facing batters he pitched fine," Duncan said. "But like everybody else he doesn't have that pinpoint control yet.

"He has a live arm, a better than average fastball, nice movement on the ball and a great change-up," Duncan said. "I would say his breaking ball needs some refinement but you can tell he has a lot of potential."

NOTES: Pitchers and catchers will work out again Tuesday, when the rest of the squad is due to report. The first full-squad workouts are Wednesday. ... closer Jason Isringhausen was sent home Monday with a fever. ... After pitching 15 minutes of batting practice, left-handed reliever Steve Kline said, "An honest day's pay for an honest day's work. Now I can go home and go to sleep."

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: