Notes: Pulsipher tosses bullpen session

Notes: Pulsipher tosses bullpen session

ST. LOUIS -- Bill Pulsipher isn't as close to returning to the field as he'd like to be, but he's closer than he was a day ago. On Friday, Pulsipher -- sidelined since April 11 with a hamstring strain -- threw his first bullpen session since sustaining the injury.

He came off the mound feeling fine, and expects to pitch in the pen two more times before going out on a rehabilitation assignment. As for how long that assignment may last, it's still a bit uncertain.

"That's not necessarily for me to determine, but I don't foresee a need to do it that many times," he said. "My role here is kind of condensed. You come in, you face a couple of hitters, hopefully you do the job and somebody else is in there. I think that if I can get to that point then I'll be ready to go out again."

Pulsipher said earlier in the week that he figured he might need as few as two rehab appearances, but manager Tony La Russa found that a bit hard to swallow.

"He's gonna take two rehabs? Pitch twice? That doesn't make any sense," La Russa said. "I can't believe he said that. I think he underestimates what it takes to get back in competitive shape."

Bullpen turnaround: The Cardinals bullpen, which surrendered 14 runs in the season's first five games, hasn't been tagged with a tally since (entering Friday night). The turnaround is due to a number of factors, not the least of which is that St. Louis hasn't had to face the powerful Phillies since the beginning of the year. It also can't hurt that the Cards' relievers have more or less carved out their niches.

"It's the way we mapped it out," La Russa said. "When we came into Spring Training, we knew where (Julian) Tavarez's spot was, where (Al) Reyes' spot was. It's just that you need to use the guys in those roles, and the game needs to allow it. We've been playing games where it's been possible. Where you have issues is when you have to use them in different roles."

Countdown: With the official completion of Friday's game, there are 73 regular-season contests left at Busch Stadium. Turning over the countdown clock in right field from 74 to 73 was Astros hitting coach Gary Gaetti, who hit 51 homers as a member of the Cardinals from 1996-98.

Today in Busch history: On April 22, 1991, the Cardinals rallied for three runs over the final two innings to beat the Cubs, 3-2. Felix Jose hit a one-out, two-run homer off Dave Smith in the ninth to end the game. Thanks to Project Retrosheet ( for the information.

Baby 'Birds: Triple-A Memphis split a doubleheader against New Orleans on Thursday, winning, 4-2, and losing, 9-1. Pete Zoccolillo homered in the first game and doubled in the second. ... Jordan Pals was hammered for seven runs in 3 2/3 innings as Double-A Springfield lost, 15-6, to Wichita. Travis Hanson homered, singled and drove in three runs. ... Cody Haerther doubled and tripled and Chris Lambert pitched five innings in a 7-2 win for Class A Palm Beach over St. Lucie. Lambert permitted two runs on six hits, striking out three and walking one. ... Eric Haberer allowed four runs, but only one earned, over seven innings in Class A Quad Cities' 7-5 win over Kane County. Joe Mather hit a home run, while Brady Toops had two hits and a walk.

The player of the day was Kevin Jarvis, the Game 1 starter for Memphis. The veteran right-hander pitched a seven-inning complete game, allowing two unearned runs on three hits with five strikeouts and two walks.

Coming up: Saturday brings a rematch of last year's All-Star pitching matchup, with Cardinals left-hander Mark Mulder going up against the Astros' Hall of Fame-bound righty Roger Clemens at 1:15 p.m. CT. The two teams close out the weekend series on Sunday at 1:15 p.m. CT, when Matt Morris goes against Brandon Backe.

Matthew Leach is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.