Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Maness Looks for That Sinking Feeling; Notebook; Righthander Struggles against Nationals, as Does Kelly; CARDINALS

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Maness Looks for That Sinking Feeling; Notebook; Righthander Struggles against Nationals, as Does Kelly; CARDINALS

Article excerpt

VIERA, Fla. * Two Cardinals pitchers who intend to live off their sinking fastball this season encountered turbulence for different reasons Sunday against Washington.

Starter Joe Kelly had his line bruised by a series of groundballs and infield hits that mounted to five runs allowed in 2 1/3 innings. Reliever Seth Maness invited trouble with two walks and several balls that the Nationals were able to put in the air against the usually grounded righty. Host Washington strafed the Cardinals for 15 hits in an 11-1 victory, and eight of the runs came on 10 hits and 14 baserunners allowed by Maness and Kelly.

Maness "is just not as sharp as he wants to be right now," manager Mike Matheny said. "We've got time. He's ready to see that consistent down in the zone, consistent put the ball on the ground like we know he can do. He's off a click. He's got time to get fixed."

Kelly got grounders, "but not in the right direction," Matheny added.

In his previous two appearances, Maness has allowed five runs in 2 2/3 innings.

He and Kelly both were able to dodge further damage by inducing a double play, and Kelly had been successful more than his 2 1/3 innings would imply. In the second inning, Kelly pitched out of a no- outs, bases-loaded jam with an infield fly and a double play. He got the popup on a curveball that he's been trying to harness this spring. He also allowed a homer on a curve. The double play came on a sinker his trusty fastball and he felt in control of a changeup.

Kelly threw 57 pitches, 37 for strikes, in his second spring start.

"My stuff felt good," he said. "You get into those kind of jams and you've got to make them put it on the ground or strike them out or soft contact somewhere. I've got my go-to stuff."

TAVERAS HAS SORENESS

The Cardinals hoped Sunday to have prospect Oscar Taveras play in a third consecutive game, but another leg injury this one labeled as a minor one kept him from the lineup.

Taveras had some soreness in his right hamstring and had to leave Saturday's game for a pinch-hitter. In their cautious approach with the outfielder the Cardinals opted to have Taveras skip Sunday's game as well.

Taveras played in his first game of the spring Friday after several days of test to improve his confidence in his surgically rebuilt right ankle.

Taveras doubled in his first at-bat, and he was the designated hitter Saturday.

A Cardinals official attributed the tightness in his hamstring to Taveras not having played "at game speed" until last week.

"We need to have him healthy to really see what he can do," Matheny said.

BOURJOS UP TO SPEED

Center fielder Peter Bourjos scored from second on a single and had a full-speed sprint for a fly ball only a wall kept him from catching in his return to the lineup Sunday.

Both happened in the first inning. Bourjos, the Cardinals' speedy outfielder, made his first game appearance after missing a week to rest a right hamstring cramp. …

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