In a perfect world, demoted St. Louis Cardinals closer Jason Isringhausen would regain his effectiveness with several games in nonpressure situations.Word has it that Tyler Johnson will be undergoing arthroscopic surgery soon.
But Cardinals manager Tony La Russa can't envision Isringhausen throwing in many games of that nature.
"I don't think we're going to have the luxury of giving him four or five appearances in nonpressure situations," La Russa said Tuesday before his team lost the opener of a three-game series to Pittsburgh 8-4 in 10 innings. "Whenever he pitches, it may not be the ninth inning, but there's a hell of a chance we're going to need those three outs or whatever outs there are (to get)."
Until Isringhausen regains his command, the Cardinals will employ a closer-by-committee system centered around Ryan Franklin, Russ Springer and perhaps even Ron Villone, who gave up four 10th-inning runs Tuesday.
Isringhausen said he's making progress on his road to recovery, and he was mostly encouraged with his one scoreless inning Monday in Milwaukee.
"I need to go out there and pitch in some not-as-pressurized situations and get everything back together," said Isringhausen, who has five blown saves in 16 opportunities, along with a 7.02 ERA. "I'll start at the bottom and take baby steps and get my way back in to the way I've got to pitch. (Monday) went OK. I'm still out there thinking a lot. I'm doing a lot of side throwing and stuff right now so I don't have to think as much."
Pitching coach Dave Duncan was more encouraged about Isringhausen's performance Monday than Isringhausen.
"He threw the ball good yesterday -- real good," Duncan said. "That's what he's got to do a couple of times so he's confident he can make the pitch he wants to make. His stuff is good. He's just not executing pitches. He's got to get back to where he's making pitches, and the confidence will be there."
Duncan maintains Isringhausen's problem is twofold. He said hitters typically are in attack mode against closers, and because Isringhausen's location is off, he's unable to get ahead in the count. Because he's not ahead in the count, he never gets to throw his out pitch, the curveball.
Stuart Pomeranz, the 2003 second round draft pick, has been released by the organization.
He began his professional career with Rookie Level Johnson City in 2003, and slowly rose up through the ranks before being sidelined multiple times the past couple years with shoulder injuries. He did, however, post a 12-win season for Single-A Peoria in 2004.
In 2006, Pomeranz was named the #4 prospect in the Cardinals farm system by The Birdhouse writers, then slid a couple spots in 2007 to #7. Pomeranz was also chosen as the Cardinals Pitcher of the Month for May 2006. He added appearances the past two seasons in the Arizona Fall League to his resume, where he worked on his arm strength after shoulder and oblique injuries.
Last season, Pomeranz split time between the GCL Cardinals and Palm Beach squads on separate rehab assignments, posting a 1-2 record with a 6.28 ERA allowing 16 hits, 12 runs (10 earned), five home runs, three walks, and striking out nine over 14.1 innings in six starts.