Veteran Adam Wainwright has some advice for TV rookie Albert Pujols: Cardinals Extra

Veteran Adam Wainwright has some advice for TV rookie Albert Pujols: Cardinals Extra

PITTSBURGH — There was a day when Adam Wainwright sat in the trainers’ room with icepacks stacked on his forearms trying to cool down and recover from an Albert Pujols story.The veteran pitcher was about to leave the team’s sauna, his time up, when Pujols, that three-time MVP and longtime teammate, strolled in, sat down, and started the slow burn of another tale. Wainwright found himself sweltering for 34 minutes longer than planned.“You can’t leave Pujols’ story once Pujols starts storytelling,” he said.Unless, that is, you’re under the heat of a commercial break.Pujols, less than a year removed from his 700th career home run and retirement, will try something new Sunday as he joins NBC streaming service Peacock’s broadcast of the Cardinals’ morning game at PNC Park against the Pirates. Pujols’ debut comes at the same ballpark where this past season he told reporters not to expect to see him popping up on TV in retirement — he had traveling to catch up on, he said. He had things he wanted to see other than himself on TV.

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Wainwright, now a veteran of color commentary on playoff games and set to have a broadcast job waiting for him after retirement, offered his friend some advice.The broadcast booth isn’t a sauna.“He has incredible stories,” Wainwright said. “But they are all long. Can’t start those with two outs. Because then the end of the inning comes mid-story, and once you come back from commercial nobody wants to hear that story. That’s the lesson I learned early.”As part of the Cardinals’ only scheduled appearance this season on subscription-based Peacock, Wainwright will join the broadcast from the dugout during the fifth inning. Manager Oliver Marmol is also set to talk with Pujols and the booth during the game from the dugout.Pujols continues to work for the Los Angeles Angels as part of the personal services contract that began after his formal retirement from the game. He has responsibilities with the Angels but also maintains contact with the Cardinals and could yet be involved in Major League Baseball events (such as the Cardinals’ London series) and, yes, national broadcasts or MLB-affiliate networks. His 10-year post-career deal with LA and any official role with the Angels does not limit “him being honored by the Cardinals” or participating in those events, according to a source with direct knowledge of the agreement’s language.An Angels official said this past winter that Pujols could become anything he chases in the game — front office, manager, any of it — and Wainwright added Saturday he has little doubt that Pujols will excel as broadcaster, too. Look at the venue he chose for his debut. In 102 games at PNC Park, Pujols hit .374 with a .730 slugging percentage, 101 RBIs, and 35 of his 703 homers.“He’s going to be great,” Wainwright said. “We know that. The reason he’s going to be great is because he owns Pittsburgh.”Cardinals’ bases-loaded riddleIn three consecutive innings Friday night the Cardinals loaded the bases, and in each of those innings they left the bases that way, unable to nudge home one run, let alone a windfall.A four-run lead could have been larger before it was gone in a 7-5 loss.And it wasn’t the first loaded bases that were left loaded.“We’ve missed some opportunities to break games open,” Marmol said Saturday in his office at PNC Park. “But it’s not why we’re losing baseball games. Should we have broken that game open? Absolutely. You get a base hit in one of those situations and the game is over.”The Cardinals entered Saturday’s game with the second-most at-bats with bases loaded, and in those 53 at-bats they are batting .189, the sixth-lowest in the majors. They are in the bottom third in slugging (.340) and OPS (.586), too. But the inability to connect with bases loaded is out of touch with their overall success with runners in scoring position. The Cardinals’ .855 OPS with runners in scoring position is second only to the team that hosts them Monday night, Texas (.921 OPS). The Cardinals’ .504 slugging percentage ranks second in the majors, again behind only the Rangers (.541), and they’re not skipping into double plays.The troubles with the bases loaded are a result of limited sample size and timing.With fewer than 55 at-bats, the average oscillates significantly with one hit, skewing up almost 40 points with two more hits, plunging down 40 with two fewer. More compelling, Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado are a combined 3-for-9 with the bases loaded — suggesting limited chances and also the remainder of the lineup is 7-for-44 (.159). The Cardinals were 3-for-9 with runners in scoring position Friday night, but zero-for-4 with the bases loaded. They rolled Yahtzee for the outs: strikeout, groundout, lineout, flyout.The back half of the lineup had three of those four at-bats.The 12 runners the Cardinals left on base Friday — nine in the bases-loaded misses — tied a season high for the third time. The Cardinals rank seventh in runners left on base.‘Oppo’ ArenadoAfter almost three years of needling Arenado for his lack of an opposite field homer, Lars Nootbaar and Andrew Knizner may have to get knew material.“They’ve been dogging me about it for a long time,” Arenado said.Arenado’s home run in Friday’s loss was his first as a Cardinal to leave the ballpark right of center field. It came off Pittsburgh right-hander Roansy Contreras, the starter in a game when Arenado struck out four times. Arenado’s previous 73 homers with the Cardinals had all been pull side. Since his debut in 2013, no hitter has had more pull-side homers. Of Arenado’s 309 career homers, 13 are described as opposite-field homers, per Baseball Savant. (Friday’s was classified by Savant as a homer to center, though it was over the right-gap.) Arenado’s quest has become a running friendly joke for Nootbaar and Knizner, and Arenado could readily recall his last opposite-field homer.It came in 2019 at Coors Field over the right-field scoreboard.He added that his last one on the road was in September 2017.Arenado is often pitched accordingly, and he’s worked on his swing to drive that outside pitch and force teams to rethink that approach.“I think it’s just staying on the baseball,” Arenado said. “I was trying to load early and give myself time to recognize a pitch. I was able to lay off some close pitches away. That’s a good sign for me, because I’m looking for my pitch and I’m not leaning out over. I was trying to stay tall and reacted.”

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Note: The planned Best Podcast in Baseball episode with author Will Leitch, of New York Magazine and MLB.com, begins at 18:20. While recording a conversation with Leitch about his new novel, the cameo in it by the Cardinals, and his beginnings as a sportswriter, Best Podcast in Baseball host Derrick Goold had to step aside to write a tribute and obituary for Hall of Fame journalist and longtime St. Louis Post-Dispatch baseball writer Rick Hummel. This episode begins with a memorial of Hummel from two people have shared a page in the newspaper with him — one for a brief wonderful time as a Cardinals fan and forever reader of the Post-Dispatch and the other for 20 years as a colleague and sidekick at the ballpark. The previously recorded episode about Leitch’s new novel, how sports writing influences his storytelling, and his view of the 2023 Cardinals, Willson Contreras, and if the recent upswing in their success is real — or, like any novel, a red herring. The Best Podcast in Baseball, sponsored by Closets by Design of St. Louis, is a production of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, StlToday.com, and Derrick Goold.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

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