Monday, September 21, 2015


Backes to throw out first pitch at Cardinals game; 
lineups vs. Columbus; Lehtera to be evaluated Thursday

ST. LOUIS -- David Backes is ready.

Backes, the Blues' captain, will be out of his element of sorts -- he played baseball in his younger days -- when he throws out the first pitch Monday before the Cardinals take on the Cincinnati Reds in St. Louis Blues Night at Busch Stadium.

The Cardinals will take batting practice in their mixed Cardinals/Blues themed jerseys -- like the Blues did in pregame warmups prior to a regular season game last season -- and there will be a slew of Blues players on hand, including Vladimir Tarasenko, Paul Stastny (pending the birth of his child), Kevin Shattenkirk, Troy Brouwer, Alex Pietrangelo and Alexander Steen.

Backes described what will be coming to the plate.

"Fastball, two-seamer, knee-high, outside corner probably 75 miles per hour because I'm probably not going to get much of a chance to warm up," he joked. "... I'm going to have eight guys standing next to me and I'm sure it won't be quiet and I'll be sweating and downhill on the mound. I haven't thought much about it, but it'll be a fun time."

Cardinals players will be wearing the jerseys during the national anthem also. They will be available for auction with proceeds benefiting Cardinals Care. For more information, log on to 

Fans will also be able to purchase Blues-themed Cardinals t-shirts. They are only available exclusively at the ballpark. There will have additional Blues prizes throughout the game. 

From 5:45- 6:45 p.m., fans can get autographs from Blues and Cardinals alumni during a pregame pep rally in Riverview Corner. Then prior to the 7:15 p.m. first pitch, members of the 2015-16 Blues will be introduced during a pre-game ceremony.

And then Backes will top it all off with his first pitch.

"I feel a bit like Warren from Something about Mary looking for a baseball," Backes joked. "I just want one to practice, but I think they're hiding from me on purpose hoping I don't make it to the plate."

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock also chimed in, joking, "Hopefully he hits the target. ... I'd be really nervous."

* Lineups vs. Columbus -- The Blues, who will play a split-squad game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday to open preseason play, have announced the lineups for the games.

On home ice, which will begin at 7 p.m. at Scottrade Center:

Alexander Steen-Paul Stastny-Vladimir Tarasenko

Robby Fabbri-Jaden Schwartz-David Backes

Steve Ott-Ivan Barbashev-Jordan Caron

Spencer Asuchak-Evan Trupp-Jacob Doty

Petteri Lindbohm-Alex Pietrangelo

Jay Bouwmeester-Colton Parayko

Chris Butler-Tommy Vannelli

Brian Elliott and Pheonix Copley will be in goal.

In the 6 p.m. game at Columbus' Nationwide Arena:

Magnus Paajarvi-Scott Gomez-Troy Brouwer

Dmitrij Jaskin-Kyle Brodziak-Ty Rattie

Scottie Upshall-Pat Cannone-Danny Kristo

Samuel Blais-Justin Hodgman-Cody Beach

Joel Edmundson-Kevin Shattenkirk

Carl Gunnarsson-Jordan Schmaltz

Vince Dunn-Peter Harrold

Jake Allen and Jordan Binnington will be the goalies.

Players not playing Tuesday include: Jeremy Welsh, Zach Pochiro, Ryan Tesink, Adam Musil, Ryan Reaves, Yannick Veilleux, Zach O'Brien, Liam Dunda, Jaedon Descheneau, Eriah Hayes, Glenn Gawdin, C.J. Yakomwicz, Stu Bickel, Konrad Abeltshauser, Andre Benoit, Robert Bortuzzo, Luke Opilka and Niklas Lundstrom.

* Injury update -- Hitchcock was not discouraged that any of his injured players would be off the ice long, including that of center Jori Lehtera.

Lehtera, who has been out since ankle surgery Aug. 4, could be back on the ice full time in the not-too-distant future according to Hitchcock.

"We're looking at getting a full evaluation on Thursday on Lehtera what day he comes back exactly," Hitchcock said. "We should have some more bodies back, including Reaves by the end of the week here.

"(Lehtera's) had good days here. He's now approaching where we're going to evaluate which day does he join the group."

Bortuzzo, who has been hit-or-miss at practices since camp opened, is expected to only miss a couple days.

"Bortuzzo, we're holding out for a couple days so we get him back full-go here on Wednesday," Hitchcock said. "So we'll keep Bortuzzo out of the game so he can practice with us Wednesday.

"He's fine. If we weren't going to play him in tomorrow's game, let's give him two days to rest so he's back at 100 percent."

Reaves, who has not skated since being checked by Veilleux on Friday, is not expected to miss much more time.

Harrold and Vannelli switched groups on Monday to balance the defensive units out.

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