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05 April 2011

Cardinals McClellan To Make First Start for Hometown Team

Kyle McClellan grew up in Florissant, Missouri as a fan of the Cardinals.  Tonight in St. Louis, a dream will come true for the Redbirds righthander as he will make his first big league start against the Pittsburgh Pirates.  The Hazelwood West High grad has been a fixture in the Cardinals bullpen since 2008.

Pitching coach Dave Duncan has been high on McClellan's potential as a starting pitcher for some time now, noting his command of a variety of pitches that are effective against batters on both sides of the plate.  That versatility has served the Cardinals well out of the bullpen, but hasn't stopped the ball club from grooming McClellan as a starter the past three springs in Jupiter. In 2009, he was insurance in case Chris Carpenter was unable to answer the bell after Tommy john surgery.  Last spring, McClellan was very impressive in the battle to claim the fifth starter role, but lost out to Jaime Garcia, who was simply even more impressive. Coming into this season, the Cardinals clearly had McClellan pencilled into the role, but made him earn it.  And earn it he did by getting batters to beat the ball into the ground, showing necessary stamina, and posting a minuscule 0.78 ERA.

McClellan was St. Louis' best performing starter in Florida.  But that was spring training.  Tonight, the game is for real.  The true test for the hometown boy to make his dreams come true.  I am bullish on McClellan's capabilities as a starting pitcher in the big leagues.  He has passed muster in his previous trials and has earned the right to take the ball in the first inning under the lamps of Busch III.   I - and all of Cardinal Nation - will be rooting shamelessly for him to succeed in what is truly his home ballpark.

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