So far, the St. Louis Cardinals are doing just fine without Albert Pujols. And they don't seem to miss Tony La Russa, either.
The World Series champs are 5-2 heading into Friday's home opener against the Cubs. They have gotten plenty of clutch hitting and pitching.
And they take it personally when it's mentioned that there are no big names anymore.
"What do you mean?" pitcher Adam Wainwright said with mock seriousness. "We don't have Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman? Lance Berkman is a Hall of Famer potentially, Matt Holliday should have won the MVP in '07 and he's a batting champion."
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Checking one Web site's top 10 power rankings prior to the season, the 6-7 right-hander took note that the Cardinals weren't on the list.
"It's hilarious. It doesn't matter who was on our team before and who wasn't, we're never favored and that's fine," Wainwright said. "Maybe we don't have overhyped players."
Chasing 3,000 hits
Looking for a boost for their stagnant offense, Cleveland has reached agreement on a $1.25 million, one-year contract with free-agent outfielder Johnny Damon, a person familiar with the deal said. Damon is 277 hits from 3,000 and was looking to catch on with a team to prolong his career.
Another Clemens trial
After bungling its first attempt at prosecuting Roger Clemens on charges that he lied to Congress about his steroid use, the government will start its second effort to convict him in federal court in Washington, D.C., on Monday.
Like the first trial last year, this one is expected to take four to six weeks. And like the last trial, the testimony of one man, New York Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte, could turn out to be the strongest evidence against Clemens.
Judge Reggie Walton declared a mistrial in the first trial after only two days of testimony because the government showed jurors evidence that he had deemed inadmissible.
Nationals cleanup hitter Michael Morse will be shut down for about six weeks after aggravating the injured back muscle that already landed the left fielder on the disabled list. . . Royals outfielder Lorenzo Cain has been placed on the disabled list with a left groin strain.
Vladimir Guerrero's lawyer says no charges will be filed against the former major-leaguer stemming from a brawl in a disco. . . . Former Philadelphia outfielder Pat Burrell will sign a one-day minor-league contract so he can officially retire as a Phillie during the Boston Red Sox series in May at Citizens Bank Park. He'll be honored May 19 and throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
Ready to play
Mets thirds baseman David Wright has been cleared to play by a hand specialist who examined his broken right pinkie. Wright sat out two games after breaking his finger diving back to a base Monday night. He is hitting .583.