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THE PLAN IS STILL THE PLAN

[March 7th] -- Wins and losses don't mean a thing this early in spring training. And the veterans, well, their numbers mean less. They can turn it on when they need to. But the majority of players don't have the luxury of playing poorly and still being in the opening day lineup. And with so many players fighting for so few positions, cuts will be coming very soon. That means that many of the guys will lose their chance to play with the big club based on 20 or so at-bats, 10 or so innings. And that's so not-fair. Ichiro Suzuki went 1-25 during one stretch last year, and no one remembers that. But let Mike Restovich go 1-25 this spring, and he's looking at a plane ticket to Columbus.

If Nook Logan stays cold, Manny Acta might have some 'splaining to do. Will he open with a center-fielder that's batting .083 (something that will get the fans howling), or does he go back on his word about Logan being "the man" and put Ryan Church or someone else out there? Nook is creating a lose-lose situation for the first year manager.

Is Cristian Guzman's relative lack of playing time thus far (0-5 in 2 games) a sign that his shoulder is still not healthy? My guess is that is if he could go, he would go. And he hasn't seen an inning in the field yet. There is no question that Guzman is the best defensive shortstop on the team, but at some point, Manny would have to consider moving Felipe Lopez back to short and starting Ronnie Belliard at second. There is nothing wrong with that scenario, except the fact that Belliard isn't hitting much better than Guzman. Thus far, the former Cardinal is batting .111 (1-9). It's not that those nine at-bats are indicative of his abilities, but it makes it much harder for Manny to pull the trigger on rearranging the infield.

Brian Schneider, who hit a home run on Tuesday and drove in four runs, credits Mitchell Page for adjusting his stance and giving him a quicker swing. I've always believed Brian has .275-15-70 ability, but his inconsistency - those 3 for 40 streaks - has kept him away from being an everyday threat. On the other side of the coin, Tim Redding is blaming Randy St. Claire for his poor start. It seems St. Claire's "tinkering" has made him feel less comfortable on the mound. Funny, but it wasn't St. Claire that repositioned Ryan Wagner's arm angle and resurrected his career?

Larry Broadway is still hitting .375, but all his hits have been singles. Travis Lee got into his first real game on Tuesday and doubled and drove in two runs. Broadway will likely get the starting nod at first if he keeps his batting average respectable, but he won't keep it if he doesn't start to show some power.

Mike Restovich is playing himself out of a reserve outfield role. He is 0-7 with 3 strikeouts. His job - if he earns it - would be to come off the bench with power and fill in occasionally in the outfield. As of yet, he hasn't shown he can do it. He just may be that 'AAAA' player who can't hit major league pitching.

Emilano Fruto is falling into the "fool me twice, shame on me" category. Another 1.2 innings, another 2 runs on two homers. There is no question that the guy has superb stuff, so why the 23.14 ERA? I don't know. I thought he was a lock to make the bullpen. One more bad outing will all but guarantee his beginning the year at Columbus.


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