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Cardinals pound bullpen rejects

Concerns that Albert Pujols' surgically repaired elbow was to blame for a late spring slump at the plate and a power outage that spanned the Grapefruit League season were put to rest Friday night.

True, it was against Class AAA pitching. But it was still impressive all the same that the big guy was 3-for-5 with a homer and six RBIs in an exhibition game at Memphis.

Ryan Ludwick, who struggled to stay on the good side of .200 all spring, was 1-for-4 but made the lone hit count in the form of a homer.

2007 Cardinals Minor League Pitcher of the Year PJ Walters started for the big club in place of Chris Carpenter and was brilliant. He allowed one run on four hits in seven innings while Memphis hurlers were pounded, specifically the three lefty bullpen candidates the Cardinals brought to spring training that couldn't make the big club.

Ian Ostland gave up four earned runs in 2 2/3 innings, Charlie Manning gave up four runs in 1 1/3 innings while Royce Ring put the icing on the cake with three walks and two hits surrendered in 1/3 of an inning adding up to five earned runs.

I truly hope we never have to see these three characters in St. Louis. If their Friday performance isn't motivation to keep the big guys healthy, I don't know what would be.