JUPITER, Fla. -- So long, Albert Pujols. Happy trails, Tony La Russa. Timeout, Dave Duncan.
The World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals have had plenty of upheaval. Now they enter spring training looking for a new No. 3 hitter and breaking in a rookie manager and pitching coach. Time for the newcomers to step forward.
Before meeting with reporters, just steps from the closest of six practice fields at Roger Dean Stadium, Mike Matheny jokingly checked to make sure this was where La Russa usually held court for 16 springs. Armed with a cup of coffee instead of facemask and shin guards, the former four-time Gold Glove catcher confessed to feeling a bit strange.
"Is this the spot?" Matheny said.
Two equipment bags topped by six boxes of shoes was stacked in front of Matt Holliday's locker stall, which used to be Pujols' spot. As for Pujols' decision in December to take a 10-year, $254 million free-agent deal with the Angels after 11 Hall of Fame trajectory seasons with the team that drafted him? Old news.
Pujols' name never even came up during Matheny's wide-ranging 18-minute opening media session.
"It's going to be different," pitcher Kyle Lohse said. "But it's a business and we have 25 other guys who'll pull together to win as many games as we can. That's the way it goes. And nobody's going to feel sorry for us."
The Cardinals anticipate a visit in the next few weeks from La Russa, who will be assisting longtime friend Jim Leyland with the Tigers.
Just like La Russa, Matheny plans on short, activity-filled days before the spring schedule starts March 5. He devoted a lot of Saturday to completing the routine that likely won't deviate much from the La Russa days.
That's no surprise considering Matheny played for St. Louis for four seasons and was an instructor in the organization for two more years before getting the job last November.
"Guys get in and get their work done, there's not a lot of standing around," Matheny said. "Actually, there's no standing around. We get our job done, we get better and then we get them out of here."