Reyes has a tendency to work up in the zone, thanks to the velocity and life of his riding four-seamer. But the sinking two-seamer is a sine qua non as far as the Cards are concerned. And if it means Reyes takes a few lumps while he learns it, so be it.
There will be no grading on a curve, even though the youngster is competing with the established Sidney Ponson for a rotation spot.
"He can't be successful without it," said La Russa. "How is that tough? It gives you your best chance. You can't pitch at the top of the zone -- I don't care how hard you throw.
"You don't get any points for trying. It will make him a better pitcher. He's a talented guy. He'll incorporate it."
Reyes showed improvement from his first start on Thursday. He allowed two runs on five hits in three innings, striking out three and walking one. He said that he threw more sinkers than four-seamers.
"It's tough," said Reyes. "When I throw those pitches, they get hit. It's pretty tough to go out there and do that. But I know it's going to be a good pitch for me and I really want it to work for me."
Edmonds closer, or not: Jim Edmonds is closer, "foot-wise," to making his first game appearance of the spring. Unfortunately, "calf-wise," he took a step back on Thursday. Edmonds is feeling some soreness in his left calf, which he believes may have resulted from favoring his bruised right foot.
Still, Edmonds may be closing in on a game appearance.
"I didn't really hurt it, it just got really tight from sprinting," said Edmonds.
"Everything's doing really good. I feel really good. The best thing about all this is I get to work out and get in better shape as I go. Stay strong. We're just being a little cautious."
Edmonds may play as soon as Saturday's home game against Baltimore.
Like Reyes, Ponson showed improvement from his first game appearance. But like Reyes, he's not where he wants to be yet. Ponson pitched four innings, allowing a run on three hits.
"I felt much better than my first start, but I'm still leaving the ball up," he said. "My mechanics aren't 100 percent there and I'm still leaving the ball up in the zone. It's only my second game, and it's better than it was the first game. That's always a good outlook on it."
Both right-handers will probably appear in Tuesday's game against the Yankees in Tampa. After that, though, it will be difficult for them to get their work in on the same day and other accommodations may need to be made.
Tough critic: Braden Looper came into the clubhouse clearly frustrated following his one-inning appearance on Thursday. Looper didn't look like someone who should be asked about how it went, so at first no one asked.
But Looper's results weren't bad at all. The right-hander pitched a hitless inning in which he walked one batter. That was much better than his first game, when he was hit hard.
"I'm not unhappy," he said. "You get frustrated when you feel what you're doing wrong and you can't make the adjustment. I ended up walking a guy and I shouldn't have walked a guy. I feel good physically, which is what I should take from it. It'll come. It's just a matter of time."
No breaks: The wind didn't do the Cardinals any favors in their 3-0 loss to Florida. Two balls that looked for all the world like home runs fell for doubles, as both Larry Bigbie and Scott Spiezio were cheated -- and their teammates noticed.
"Spiez, nice homer!" quipped Edmonds. "Too bad it was just a double."
Bits and pieces: The exhibition game between the Cardinals and Central Missouri State was canceled because the Cardinals didn't have enough pitchers. Central played another college team on Field 1 at Roger Dean Stadium. ... St. Louis did have one extra pitcher, so the Cards and Marlins played an extra inning in order for Juan Mateo to pitch. Bullpen catcher Jeff Murphy served as the umpire. ... John Rodriguez, who has been dealing with a sore shoulder, may return to game action on Friday.
Quotable: "He got quick outs because he left a lot of balls at the top of the strike zone, and that's what everybody wants to swing at. Luckily he got away with it. In April you don't get away with those." --
Duncan on Ponson
Weather report: It'll be one of the warmer days of the spring, with forecast highs of around 82 degrees in Port St. Lucie on Friday. There's a 20 percent chance of rain and you can expect to see a few clouds, but it's still quite nice.
Coming up: Friday brings a road game for the Cardinals. They head north to Port St. Lucie for a 12:10 p.m.
CT start against the Mets. Mark Mulder will start for the Cardinals, and he'll be followed by Adam Wainwright, who is battling Ponson and Reyes for the fifth starter job. Jeremi Gonzalez starts for New York.