Cardinals manager Tony La Russa has a reputation for not being the biggest fan of young and inexperienced players. Take Brendon Ryan, for example. Recently, La Russa was quoted in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch as saying that, contrary to whispers around the Cardinal clubhouse, he likes the spunky infielder. However, he went on to say that Ryan had a tendency to play “young”.
Normally, you would expect a word like “young” to carry negative connotations coming from La Russa. But after posting a batting average of .333 since being recalled from the minors on April 24, it’s clear that La Russa was complimenting Ryan on his sparkplug-like play, injecting offense into a position that has seen next to none from the incumbent retread Caesar Izturis, to go along with defense and speed on the base paths.
Of course, the last paragraph is written with my tongue firmly planted against the inner wall of my cheek. Okay, well so what if La Russa didn’t really mean it as a compliment. Does anyone really care if Ryan plays “young” anyway?
Memo to Tony La Dingfod: I would rather have a player that plays “young” than one that plays “terrible”, as in the case of Izturis.