Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Eckersley Can't Get Break from Elbow Pain

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Eckersley Can't Get Break from Elbow Pain

Article excerpt

Dennis Eckersley had one of everything in his first appearance of the spring Saturday against the Minnesota Twins: One inning, one hit, one run, one walk, one strikeout.

The Cardinals reliever, 42, was not overwrought with his performance but he said, "I'm frustrated."

If there was a disappointment for him it was that his sore elbow hurt when he threw his slider. "I pitched the whole time from the stretch because I didn't want to yank on (the elbow)," Eckersley said. "We'll know better tomorrow. "I felt it a little more on the breaking balls. I threw about six of them - lousy ones, too. "It's not like I can't pitch with it. But if people keep crushing their stuff, then they might say, `We don't want you to pitch.' " Eckersley was harder on himself than others. Told that Eckersley had had pain in throwing his slider, catcher Tom Pagnozzi said, "I don't know anything about it. "He threw OK - for the first time out. My feeling on the first time out is that if you get out of the inning, you've done a helluva job." Pitching coach Dave Duncan said of Eckersley's trouble with his breaking pitch, "He didn't have the best of mechanics when he was throwing them. He was underneath them. You get into your first game and . . . well, how are you going to have good mechanics when you've got that pump (adrenaline) going? Until you calm down and just think about pitching, it's hard to think about good mechanics. "I always want to get those first two or three outings out of the way before I get too excited or too critical." "He let some fastballs go pretty good," manager Tony La Russa said. "If he says it bothers him on his breaking ball, then it bothers him on his breaking ball. As long as he can take the ball the next time out, he'll be all right. We'll see." La Russa said David Bell had an "excellent" chance to make the club as a utility player. "I'm not telling him to find an apartment, but he's got an excellent chance," said La Russa. Cardinals outfielder-first baseman John Mabry got a rare off day Saturday. "I've decided not to pursue the record," said Mabry, referring to Cal Ripken. …

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