Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Torre: Astros Still Team to Beat

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Torre: Astros Still Team to Beat

Article excerpt

The Cardinals have to run down the Houston Astros before they take aim on the Cincinnati Reds in the National League Central Division, but St. Louis manager Joe Torre still thinks Houston is the more formidable club.

"This club is like the Cardinals used to be all about," Torre said. "They play an aggressive style. Their pitching is good. I think their starting pitching is better than Cincinnati's. Cincinnati has a little more pop. Houston's probably got a little better defense.

"In spring training, I liked this club better. There's no sense changing my mind."

Houston is 2 1/2 games behind Cincinnati after a 3-1 victory over the Cardinals. The Cardinals fell eight games back.

Cardinals pitchers spent their batting practice bunting for 20 minutes, as Torre has been unhappy with his club's inability to sacrifice.

"That's got to be the most boring thing in the world," Torre said. "If nothing else - if they hate to do it - they may do better. They all know how to do it. They're just a little careless."

Cardinals pitchers haven't laid down a sacrifice bunt in their last 12 games. The Cardinals ranked 11th out of 14 in the National League in sacrifices, at 36.

When the Cardinals play Houston and Atlanta nine games in seven days - Atlanta six in four days - about two weeks from now, the Cardinals will be looking for more pitching help. At Louisville, lefthander Tom Urbani, already seen here, and righthander John Frascatore are being watched.

Frascatore, who jumped from Class AA to Class AAA this season, was the most impressive young Cardinals pitcher in spring training.

Meanwhile, righthander Brian Barber, who was 1-5 at Louisville, was sent back to Arkansas. Barber was one of three No. 1 draft picks in 1991.

"Frascatore doesn't scare," Torre said. "Not that Barber does, but Barber is still raw. He's still throwing it instead of pitching it. That's the report I've had, anyway."

Torre said that the Cardinals hadn't lost interest in Barber. "He still has a little growing to do emotionally," Torre said. "Physically he's there, but he has to understand what pitching is all about. He's such a competitive kid that he gets impatient. …

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