Franklin yanked from closer role
Posted: Wednesday, April 20, 2011 3:40 pm
By: By R.B. FALLSTROM, AP Sports Writer
ST. LOUIS (AP) — The St. Louis Cardinals have bumped Ryan Franklin out of the closer’s role after four blown saves early in the season.
Manager Tony La Russa said Tuesday that changing Franklin’s responsibilities might help the 38-year-old right-hander get back on track. He didn’t say who might replace Franklin in the ninth, but the top candidate probably is Mitchell Boggs.
“I think the thing to do is watch the game and see who comes out there,” La Russa said. “We can talk about it afterwards. You treat him like a hitter who’s struggling, change the responsibility a little bit for a little bit.”
Franklin was 0-2 with an 11.57 ERA in six games and one save in five chances entering a three-game series against the Washington Nationals. He was 27 for 29 on save tries last season and an All-Star in 2009, relying on a half-dozen options to compensate for lack of a dominating fastball.
Franklin has already made a cosmetic change, shearing off more than half of a long beard that juts off his chin.
“Whenever the phone rings and they say ‘Franklin get up,’ I get up,” Franklin said. “However they want to put me out there. It doesn’t matter, I’m theirs.
“However they want to treat it, I’m on board.”
Franklin says he’s happy with his pitches but blamed himself for poor pitch selection. He gave up a game-winning, two-run homer to the Dodgers’ Matt Kemp on Sunday.
“My stuff’s fine, everything in the arsenal’s still there,” Franklin said. “I haven’t lost anything.”
Franklin has been unlucky, too, with blown saves on consecutive days in San Francisco. He was one out away when center fielder Colby Rasmus dropped Miguel Tejada’s drive to the warning track after a long run, and a day earlier first baseman Albert Pujols was at first to receive a pickoff throw from catcher Yadier Molina, providing an opening for Pablo Sandoval’s game-tying, ninth-inning single.
“Sure, if you’re human it’s going to affect you, but you can’t let it affect you on the mound,” Franklin said. “What it boils down to is I’ve got blood going through my veins, so sure it affects you. I’m not going to lie.”
The 27-year-old Boggs had a 2.00 ERA in six games covering nine innings with 12 strikeouts and three walks. He’s had five consecutive scoreless appearances.
“If my name gets called I’ll be ready for it, I’ll be ready to go,” Boggs said. “But that’s not something I need to think about and it’s not my decision to make.”
La Russa’s face was swollen and his right eye was nearly shut from what the manager said was a virus he’s had for five days. It didn’t keep him off the field during pregame drills.
“Actually it looks bad, but I’m not in a lot of pain,” La Russa said. “It scares kids. Like bad makeup in a horror movie.”
In other Cardinals’ news, second baseman Skip Schumaker and reserve outfielder Allen Craig have been placed on the 15-day disabled list entering a six-game homestand.
Schumaker has a right triceps strain and Craig has a left groin strain. The moves were announced Tuesday before the start of a three-game series against the Washington Nationals.
La Russa thinks Schumaker, who’s batting .241 with one homer and eight RBIs, will need more than 15 days to recover. Craig, who said he was injured while stealing second at Los Angeles on Saturday, is batting .313 with one homer and seven RBI.
Infielder Nick Punto was activated from the 15-day disabled list and first baseman Mark Hamilton was recalled from Triple-A Memphis. Punto missed most of spring training after surgery in February for a sports hernia and La Russa said he’d have been activated at some point this homestand, in any case.
Tyler Greene started at second base Tuesday night and the Cardinals also can use Punto and Daniel Descalso there. La Russa said he’d probably give Punto a start on Wednesday.
“We’ve got three good options, so we’re in good shape,” La Russa said.
The 26-year-old Hamilton was a supplemental draft pick in 2006 out of Tulane and played nine games for the Cardinals last September. He was hitting .297 with one home run and four RBI in 11 games at Memphis.