Notes: Ankiel may be brought up soon

Notes: Ankiel may be brought up soon

ST.LOUIS -- Cardinals fans waiting to see Rick Ankiel in a big-league uniform again, might not have to wait until September after all.

Before Wednesday's game with the Padres, Cards manager Tony La Russa was asked about Ankiel's possible future with the Redbirds, one night after the center fielder hit his league-leading 32nd home run of the season.

"We're talking about when the right time [is]," La Russa said. "I don't know if we necessarily have to wait until September."

On Sept. 1, big-league rosters expand from 25 players to 40. So far this season, La Russa repeatedly said that the Cards would likely wait until the season's final month to promote the 28-year-old outfielder. However, as Ankiel continues to produce, it has forced the Cards to think about it more.

Through 102 games this season, Ankiel is batting .267 with the 32 homers and is second in the Pacific Coast League in RBIs with 89.

"If he's better than someone's that's here, he should be here," La Russa said. "The argument is, every time he plays in a game down there, that's more experience, more at-bats. We're not hurting him, by him not being here. It's been good for him."

While Ankiel's power numbers are nearly off-the-charts, he still has areas to improve on. He has drawn just 25 walks this season, compared to striking out 90 times and has an on-base percentage of just .314.

One thing that could hurt Ankiel's arrival is the fact that the Cards are getting consistent production from the five outfielders currently on the roster -- Jim Edmonds, Chris Duncan, Juan Encarnacion, Ryan Ludwick and So Taguchi. Edmonds has the lowest average of the five at .246, but has recently shown signs of improvement since being activated from the DL.

"Today, Chris Duncan is sitting on the bench. It's like we're playing infielders in the outfield," La Russa said. "It's not a real clear call, both from what we need, and secondly, when's the right time for him."

Bonds reaction: Edmonds was working out with strength and conditioning coach Pete Prinzi after Tuesday night's loss to the Padres, when he saw Giants slugger Barry Bonds hit his 756th home run.

Edmonds, who has been competing against Bonds for years, said he was thrilled for him and was glad to see it live on television.

"When the count got full, I turned to Pete, and said, 'He's going to do it, this guy's going after him.' Next pitch -- whack," Edmonds said. "It was pretty cool. I was jumping up and down. I'm real happy for him. It's real neat to see something like that."

Edmonds knows a bit about seeing history. He was on hand in person, as his visiting Angels were playing the Orioles, when Cal Ripken Jr. broke Lou Gehrig's consecutive games played streak in 1995.

Another member of the Cardinals, Ryan Franklin, was happy for Bonds and relieved he wasn't the pitcher to give up the historic shot. Franklin gave up homer No. 738 to Bonds.

"I would have had a hard time giving him something to hit," Franklin said. "I wouldn't have wanted to be the guy to give it up. If I was a rookie, and didn't know how long I was going to be around, it would have been different. But, I'm happy for him. It's a special thing."

Spiezio ailing: Cards utility man Scott Spiezio has been dealing with a stomach virus since Monday, but was available to pinch-hit, if needed, on Wednesday night.

On Monday, Spiezio was injected with IV's at Busch Stadium, being treated for the virus. La Russa said he wasn't available to play on Monday, but could have been used if needed on Tuesday.

Spiezio said he feels dramatically better than he did earlier in the week, and was ready to play.

Spiezio has dealt with a few weird injuries this season. In early July, he was placed on the 15-day disabled list with an infection in his left index finger.

Wellemeyer progressing: Cards righty Todd Wellemeyer threw again before Wednesday's game. He played catch on flat ground, but still hasn't thrown off a mound.

While Wellemeyer's return isn't expected anytime in the immediate future, La Russa said he expects Wellemeyer to rejoin the team as a reliever, rather than a starter, but that could change.

"I just don't know how he's going to get enough time to build up to be a starter," La Russa said. "But, if we need a starter, we can give him some extra days and give him some simulated games, rather than activate him as a reliever."

Baby 'Birds: Triple-A Memphis beat Portland, 4-3, Tuesday night. Ankiel hit a three-run homer in the fifth -- his 32nd of the season. Chris Perez pitched a perfect ninth for his second save since being promoted. Perez hasn't allowed a run in his first four innings ... Double-A Springfield had Tuesday off ... Class A Palm Beach beat Dunedin, 13-10, in 12 innings. Brandon Yarbrough had a two-run double in the 12th to start the scoring. Brandon Buckman followed with an RBI single to cap it off. Buckman, Jon Jay and Allen Craig all had three hits. Luke Gregerson pitched three scoreless innings to pick up the win ... Class A Quad Cities beat Dayton, 5-3, in a rain-shortened game. Christian Reyes was 3-for-3 with two RBIs. Arnoldi Cruz added two hits and an RBI.

Short-season Batavia beat Hudson Valley 6-4. Ross Oeder went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and an RBI. Rookie-level Johnson City lost to Kingsport, 9-7. Nicholas Vera and Matthew Arburr each had a homer and two RBIs ... The Gulf Coast League Cardinals swept a doubleheader from the Dodgers, 2-1 and 3-2. Rico Washington, who is rehabbing an injury, homered in the first game.

Player of the day honors go to Buckman. The first baseman was 3-for-6 with a homer and four RBIs. In the 43 games since being promoted from Quad Cities, Buckman is hitting .265 with five homers and 23 RBIs.

Coming up: The Cards and Padres will finish off their four-game series. Newly acquired Joel Pinero will take the mound for the Cards, while the Padres are expected to counter with Chris Young. Young has been on the DL with a left oblique strain and hasn't pitched since July 24.

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