Choate a fountain of knowledge in Cards' 'pen
LOS ANGELES -- The Cardinals' bullpen is stacked with young, hard-throwing right-handers, so Randy Choate often slides under the radar. But the lefty specialist is filling important roles -- as a reliever and mentor -- during the postseason.
"Randy has been a great addition to a very young bullpen where we needed some leadership, some experience down there," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "Obviously the Dodgers know him well, what he brings, the ability to come in and face a tough left-hander and figure out how to make a tough at-bat an out."
And through two games of the National League Championship Series -- against a Dodgers team with some potent left-handed bats -- Choate has succeeded in getting those tough outs. The left-hander retired Carl Crawford both in the seventh inning of Game 1 and in the eighth inning of Game 2.
Pitching on the big, nationally televised October stage can overwhelm some, but Choate won a World Series with the Yankees in 2000 and is pitching in his fourth postseason -- a fact that helps him keep his composure.
"You're already going to be excited no matter what, and having been in it before, it helps you get some of the jitters out, although it's going to be there," Choate said. "Having that experience early in my career, at such a young age, and to be able to draw from that, Yankee Stadium -- it's just such a different beast. I was able to draw from a couple Octobers there, and it's been a big help."
The knowledge he has accumulated during his 13 years as a Major Leaguer has also benefited the rest of the Cardinals' bullpen.
"I do give Randy a lot of credit," Matheny said. "How much he's helped a young Kevin Siegrist and Sam Freeman and Tyler Lyons, and all the other guys that have made their way through this club from the left side, and trying to prepare them for the left-left matchup."
When Choate isn't using his experience to help out his younger teammates, his age (38) is often a source a humor within a much younger bullpen.
"I was driving a car when some of them were born -- or pretty close -- and all of them, they pretty much all throw 95-plus and I'm a good 10 miles under that," Choate said. "It makes for good times and keeps everybody loose."