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Suppan honored to throw out first pitch

Suppan honored to throw out first pitch

Suppan honored to throw out first pitch
ST. LOUIS -- It was about 10 days ago that the Cardinals reached out to former postseason hero Jeff Suppan, saying they'd love to have him throw out the ceremonial first pitch if they made it to the National League Championship Series.

Suppan obliged and didn't back down -- even though St. Louis' opponent represented a bit of an awkward situation.

See, Cards and Brewers fans tend to have two very drastic viewpoints of Suppan.

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Cards fans, for the most part, love him -- he pitched three solid years in St. Louis, culminating in a 2006 season when he was named the NLCS Most Valuable Player and helped win a World Series. Brewers fans? Not so much. Suppan signed a four-year, $42 million contract with Milwaukee in '07, then posted a 29-36 record and a 5.08 ERA before being released three months into the 2010 season.

Regardless, Suppan -- appropriately wearing a red- and blue-striped long-sleeve shirt -- took the mound before the start of Game 3 of the NLCS at Busch Stadium on Wednesday night. He called the experience "weird, but it's not in a bad way.

"It was just one of those things where, when I ran out to the mound, I can say hello to both teams," Suppan said with a smile.

"For me, it was a great honor to come out and throw the first pitch," he added. "I was hoping to throw a strike, but I think it was up and away."

Suppan, who said he still feels a "very strong connection" to St. Louis, went 138-143 with a 4.69 ERA while pitching for six different organizations in 16 seasons in the big leagues. After being released by the Brewers, he re-signed with the Cardinals and posted a 3.84 ERA in 70 1/3 innings to close out last season.

This year, he swallowed his pride and spent the entire 2011 campaign with the Royals' Triple-A squad in Omaha -- one he proudly points out won the Pacific Coast League championship -- going 11-8 with a 4.78 ERA in 28 games (27 starts).

Somehow, the 36-year-old right-hander wants to keep pitching.

"I enjoy playing; I enjoy pitching," Suppan said. "I feel like I was healthy this year, and I was able to go out and make some starts and help the team. ... I'm just going to get ready for next year, and whatever happens, I'd like to go to Spring Training, hopefully have a chance to make a team. So, we'll see."

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