Cardinals flashing leather at corners

Cardinals flashing leather at corners

ST. LOUIS -- It takes a slick-fielding infielder to know one.

Cardinals third-base coach Jose Oquendo, who used to impress St. Louis fans with his dazzling defense, thinks both corner infielders on this year's team -- first baseman Albert Pujols and third baseman Troy Glaus -- are worthy of Gold Glove consideration.

Glaus leads the Majors in fielding percentage among third basemen (.981) and is on pace to break Ken Reitz's club record of .980 set in 1977. Pujols leads National League first basemen with a .996 fielding percentage.

"The numbers speak for themselves," Oquendo said.

The Cardinals have had a lot of fine defensive third basemen over the years, and Glaus fits the mold.

"He has more range than I expected," Oquendo said. "You can play a little closer to the line if you have a good shortstop, and that's what we have here [in Cesar Izturis]. Troy is 6-foot-5 and can charge the ball well because he doesn't play as deep as he did at one time. He can get to the bunt in good shape."

Glaus has committed only seven errors. Part of the reason for that revolves around Pujols' ability to help his infielders with short-hop pickups at first. Pujols, who has just five errors, gained his first Gold Glove in 2006, when he became the first Cardinals first baseman since Keith Hernandez in 1982 to gain that honor.

"Albert is so consistent over there," Oquendo said. "When you look at the defense being played at first base around the league, he's definitely up there with the best."

Despite a balky elbow, Pujols will pick his spots to make the aggressive throw when it's necessary.

"He knows when to throw and when not to throw," Oquendo said. "For the most part, he has been accurate. He's a guy who does it not only with his bat, but with the glove as well."

Robert Falkoff is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.