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Craig keeps hitting, Hill keeps walking

Allen Craig has solidified his bid for a spot on the Cardinals' opening day roster with a hit in the early going of their Friday Grapefruit League game against the Braves.

But Rich Hill did some serious damage to his chance to win the fifth spot in the starting rotation with three earned runs allowed in three innings pitched with a pair of hits and FIVE walks allowed. For good measure, he also made a fielding error.

The safety raised Craig's batting average to .320 for the spring.

On the flip side, Skip Schumaker was 0-2 in the first half of the Atlanta game to see his spring mark slip to .121...  I wouldn't be that worried about numbers in exhibition games except for the fact that Skippy is still trying to learn a position with which he is not that familiar.

It has to be a tough transition from the outfield to second base. And to be worried about fielding hot grounders and turning double plays could very well be a distraction at the plate when Schumaker has had the entire off-season to get out of the groove he created with his hard work last year. I also wonder if having Felipe Lopez breathing down his neck is putting extra pressure on Schumaker.

It's hard for me to imagine Lopez as a bench jockey when he had the ninth best batting average in the National League last year. And I can't help but wonder, with the Cardinals' outfield shorthandedness if in the grand scheme of things it wouldn't be best if Schumaker became the fourth outfielder and Lopez took over at second.

I don't think manager Tony La Russa is going to do that, mostly because he is very loyal to his players and it would be pretty cold to put Schumaker through the difficulties of a major position switch only to switch him back. But baseball can be a cruel business -- and let's not forget that Schumaker got a nice two-year contract extension a couple of months ago...