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|Hoffpauir on the rise|
Jarrett Hoffpauir had to take his glove off during his first practice with the St. Louis Cardinals on Feb. 20 in Jupiter, Fla.
No, Hoffpauir wasn't having trouble with the padding or didn't need to fix a string.
"I had to pinch myself and make sure I wasn't dreaming," Hoffpauir said. "But its been really cool. Everybody has been real nice. I couldn't ask for more."
Hoffpauir took batting practice on the first day with a group that included Adam Kennedy and Cesar Izturis.
Hoffpauir's first swing turned into a home run, the first of two he hit during his round.
"The first day we kind of took it easy, going over bunt defense and taking some batting practice," he said. "Hitting it over kind of got the monkey off my back. I was a little nervous at first. Coach (Tony) LaRussa was standing behind me, which was a bit intimidating."
Hoffpauir said his coach at Springfield, St. Louis's double-A minor league team, told him to go to third base and get some reads on some ground balls.
"I turned around and saw Juan Gonzalez, Albert Pujols and Troy Glaus getting ready to hit so I took a couple of steps back toward the grass."
Hoffpauir said each practice involves different stations.
"I've been swinging the bat pretty well and feeling real good," he said. "We've been working on moving runners over and I've been hitting to the opposite side. Coach LaRussa called me over to the side the other day and told me I was doing a good job and that is what he was looking for, which really lifted my spirits. I'm just trying to catch somebody's eye. It's different at this level, but I have to realize these guys are not Supermen, they are human like I am. Once I got past that, I relaxed. The last couple of days I've realized the game is the thing. I'm going to just keep playing hard and maybe if something happens I can be the first one called up. I'm just out here trying to impress some people. But it is different at this level. Everything gets done for you. All I have to do is get dressed every day."
Hoffpauir was added to the Cardinals' 40-man roster late last year after a finishing up at Memphis with St. Louis' triple-A team.
Hoffpauir, 24, a second baseman, had a hot season at the plate in 2007.
After a .345 average in 61 games for Springfield, he was promoted to Memphis and hit .300 in 55 games.
"It makes it exciting being put on the roster," Hoffpauir said. "I was a bit stressed out at the end of the season not knowing what they would do."
Hoffpauir played in the prestigious Arizona Fall League last month,
competing with the Mesa Solar Sox.
The Cardinals drafted Hoffpauir in the sixth round in 2004
"I'm just taking one groundball at a time," Hoffpauir said. "The first day or two I was sitting by Pujols thinking these are the guys you see on TV all the time and wonder if this is really happening. But then on the other hand you know this is business and I've got to take care of business."
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