"Hopefully, we're looking forward to having many players from our ballclub," Pujols said. "If we have many players in the All-Star Game next year, that means that we're having a great year. Hopefully we'll have Tony La Russa being our manager, because that would mean that we won the World Series this year, or the National League championship."
Pujols then couldn't resist taking a jab at his skipper:
"Hopefully, if he is our manager, hopefully, he can put me in the game," he said, referring to the 2007 game when Pujols did not appear. The line brought a wave of laughter all over the room.
Still, Pujols insists he doesn't take it for granted that he'll even be on the roster. La Russa introduced him by referring to his near-annual appearance on the National League squad. Pujols has only been left off the team once.
To that, Pujols replied: "Thanks for the pressure, I guess."
For Ludwick, however, there's little pressure. He's still a little amazed by his own fortune, having gone from Triple-A Memphis to the All-Star Game in about 14 months. Now, he's being presented as one of the faces of the franchise.
"I just like playing the game," he said. "The extra stuff that comes with it is a part of it. I'm not worried about being a face of the Cardinals. I'm not worried about anything like that. I'm worried about taking the field to try to help the team win.
"Fortunately for me this year, I've had a good year and I've been able to do some things this year that a lot of people didn't expect. It's just been a tremendous year."
At the 2008 All-Star Game in New York, Ludwick admitted that he was following Pujols around as much as possible, learning from the veteran how to handle things. Next time around, they'll both be veterans. And they'll be hoping for an experience that matches or surpasses the events at Yankee Stadium.
"It was exciting being in New York," Pujols said. "Major League Baseball put on a great event. From the red carpet to the Hall of Famers, the Tuesday game was a memory that is always going to be with me. Seeing all these Hall of Famers walking in, Ozzie [Smith], Bob Gibson, Lou Brock and all the other guys, it was an unbelievable moment."
And in 11 1/2 months, the unbelievable moments will be taking place in his home ballpark.