Notes: Spiezio waiting to break through

Notes: Spiezio takes turn at top

ST. LOUIS -- A new day, a new leadoff hitter.

Since moving David Eckstein out of the top spot, manager Tony La Russa has used four different leadoff hitters in four games. Saturday, Scott Spiezio got a turn.

The Cardinals have scored just three first-inning runs through 27 games.

"We haven't done very well in the first inning," La Russa said. "I think [Spiezio] will take a serious at-bat and maybe break through."

Spiezio has gotten off to a slow start this season and is batting just .224 in 49-at-bats, but has drawn eight walks. In his 12-year career, Spiezio has 18 career at-bats from the leadoff spot. He has yet to hit leadoff this season.

La Russa hasn't seen much production out of his leadoff spot all season, as the Cardinals leadoff hitters are last in the National League in hits and runs scored and second-to-last in batting average and on-base percentage.

"We're just mixing and matching until David gets back," La Russa said.

Like most of the Cardinals hitters, Eckstein has struggled through the first month of the season. The shortstop is batting .213 and has scored just 10 runs in 25 games. Since being moved down to eighth in the order, Eckstein is 1-for-10 with one run scored.

With Spiezio batting leadoff, it's the fifth different hitter to occupy the spot in the last five games. The last time the Cards did that was in 1998, when they went through a stretch using, David Howard, Delino DeShields, John Mabry, Placido Polanco and Royce Clayton. According to STATS Inc., the Cards haven't used six different hitters in six games since 1954.

La Russa made another small adjustment to his lineup for Saturday's matinee. The manager moved center fielder Jim Edmonds to fourth and moved third baseman Scott Rolen down to fifth from the fourth spot. Rolen batted fifth once earlier in the season against Reds starter Aaron Harang. Edmonds did not play in Friday's opener.

Patiently waiting: La Russa is still waiting to get more news on the status of Chris Carpenter. Carpenter hasn't pitched in a game since Opening Day against the Mets.

The right-hander was going to be examined by head team physician Dr. George Paletta on Saturday, and La Russa said he'll know for sure after that what Carpenter's availability is.

"I think today we'll find out," La Russa said on Saturday. "We'll keep our fingers crossed. With the exam Paletta did, I think we'll know the results [Saturday]."

If everything checks out and Carpenter is healthy, there is a chance he could start Tuesday against Colorado. If not, the Cardinals could opt to go with a bullpen day.

Rolen not rollin': While one Cardinals slugger, Albert Pujols, has turned it on recently, another, Rolen, has struggled.

Pujols entered Saturday in the middle of a 12-game hit streak and was 11 for his last 25. Rolen, on the other hand, was 1-for-his-last 24, after going 8-for-12 in his previous 12 at-bats.

The two haven't been hot at the same time this season. La Russa said he's more worried about his entire lineup, rather than just the two sluggers in the middle of the lineup.

"We need eight guys to go," La Russa said. "We don't need two guys going. If the other guys get going, we set the table and give the other guys some RBI chances. We're not doing that right now."

Lambert promoted: Chris Lambert, the Cards' first-round selection in 2004, was moved up from Double-A Springfield to Triple-A Memphis.

He'll make the move from starter to reliever. Lambert started five games this season with Springfield before being promoted. In his first appearance with Memphis, Lambert pitched two innings in relief and allowed one run. The move is not believed to be temporary, but also not permanent.

Degerman gets the ball: After making nine starts last season in short-season Class A, Eddie Degerman will make his first full-season start Saturday night at Quad Cities.

Degerman was the Cards' fourth-round pick last year out of Rice. Last year, he went 2-1 with a 2.76 ERA in 42 1/3 innings.

Pujols honored: Pujols was given the "This Year in Baseball" award for the best single-game performance from 2006. Against the Reds on Easter Sunday last year, Pujols hit three home runs and drove in five including a walk-off home run.

Overall, Pujols went 3-for-4 with five RBIs, four runs scored and a walk that game. Fans voted for the winner on

Baby 'Birds: Triple-A Memphis lost to Albuquerque, 9-8. Rick Ankiel continued his hot hitting, going 3-for-5 with one home run and two RBIs. Ankiel has his batting average up to .283. Ryan Ludwick also drove in four runs, upping his total to 35 RBIs on the season, to lead the team. ... Double-A Springfield lost to Wichita in 11 innings, 4-3, despite a solid day from rehabbing Cardinals outfielder Juan Encarnacion. The right fielder went 3-for-5 with two doubles and one RBI. It was his first extra-base hit during his rehab assignment. ... Class A Palm Beach lost to Brevard County, 6-2. Starter Trey Hearne gave up five runs over 6 2/3 innings. ... Class A Quad Cities lost to Cedar Rapids, 4-3, despite scoring two runs in the top of the ninth. First baseman Brandon Buckman went 2-for-5 with two RBIs.

Coming up: The Cards and Astros will finish off their three game series at 1:10 p.m. CT on Sunday. The Cards will send Braden Looper to the mound, while the Astros counter with Chris Sampson.

Daniel Berk is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.