Mailbag: Why do Pads pitch to Pujols?

Mailbag: Why do Pads pitch to Pujols?

Why don't the Padres walk Albert Pujols instead of pitching to him every time? Hasn't he proven that he is the only guy in the Cards lineup that can really hurt San Diego in the clutch? I think he has earned the respect to be intentionally walked, but seems it's not in the game plan to do so.
-- Matt

Here's the best answer, what former Giants manager Felipe Alou told Cards skipper Tony La Russa on his choice to pitch to Pujols: "We raise competitors, not cowards."

Why wouldn't San Diego start Chris Young, the guy took a no-hitter in to the ninth inning at home two weeks ago?
-- Mike B.

Young has been great on the road -- that's one factor -- and Gaeme 1 starter Jake Peavy was on his normal rotation schedule. There were concerns about Young's back, although those worries have lessened.

I was just curious why La Russa has continued to use all right-handed hitters against a left-handed pitcher this year, when all it has done is cause them to have one of the worst records against left-handed pitching. Wouldn't it only make sense to throw in a couple of left-handed hitters, just to mix it up, if nothing else?
-- Russell M.

La Russa and pitching coach Dave Duncan are olds hands in the matchup game, pitting the best hitters against respective pitchers. It's La Russa's calling card, and since St. Louis is always a playoff contender, he's doing something right. Playing strictly by the book isn't vital if the team wins.

Can you please tell us how Ryan Klesko made it onto the postseason roster? Weren't there more deserving guys like Ben Johnson or maybe even Terrmel Sledge? Sledge seemed like he was coming around offensively and we get stuck watching Mark Bellhorn flail at the plate.
-- Doug

Klesko's a deal where they're trying to catch lightning in the bottle. He came back after being on the DL all year following shoulder surgery, and he was swinging really well at the very end of the season. Klesko's also one of the Padres' few power threats.

Johnson wasn't eligible for the roster because he wasn't with the team on Aug. 31.


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I would like to know why Scott Rolen does not salute the American flag during the singing of the national anthem. I have been to numerous games and I always notice him looking toward the ground with his hands behind his back. Is he Canadian?
-- Candy H.

Ballplayers are not required to salute the flag during the national anthem, only military and police officers. They must show respect, and that's about it. To each his own, and you'll find many athletes and look down as in a moment of silence. Nope, Scott isn't a Canadian -- he was born in Jasper, Ind.

The postseason is about pitching and defense. Why would manager Bruce Bochy not start Khalil Greene at shortstop in Game 1 of the Division Series? Even if he doesn't get a hit at the plate, he usually saves a run or two with his exceptional play in the field.
-- Bobby B.

Bochy indicated that Greene will remain in his role as defensive specialist at short behind Geoff Blum as Greene continues to seek his timing and rhythm after a six-week absence with a hand injury. Greene was a bit better this week.

In critical wins on Saturday and Sunday against the Diamondbacks, Greene appeared in the middle to late innings, with Blum moving over to third base. Greene delivered significant plays in each game, including a strong throw from deep in the hole for the final out behind Trevor Hoffman in the clincher on Saturday.

Why don't postseason records count in career statistics? It seems to make no sense. Postseason is part of a player's career and the records should count.
-- Peter

Postseason records are indeed part of a player's career statistics, but it makes sense to separate those numbers from regular-season stats. One reflects the day-to-day grind of the 162-game campaigns, the other how a player performs under the pressure of playoffs. Let's face it, most players never see postseason action. Taken as separate entities, the statistics give a clearer picture of what a player meant to his team on two different baseball stages.

Rich Draper is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.