Oblique Strain

When a blogger fingered him in the Jason Grimsley scandal, strength coach Chris Mihlfeld found himself in a world of pain.

Mihlfeld maintains that he's interested only in teaching regular kids to become better players, not prospecting for another build-a-legend like Albert Pujols. He worries that his tarnished reputation will keep kids from associating themselves with him. He still hasn't returned to the Cardinals or Royals clubhouses. He stays away from Sweeney, too, even as the slugger tries to return from a back injury.

He throws harder to Mathis now, and the rhythm of their glove-slaps increases. Mathis throws a bullet that tips off Mihlfeld's glove and bounces off the canvas bed cover of Mihlfeld's raised pickup.

"My bad, Chris," Mathis yells as Mihlfeld runs after the loose ball.

Jennifer Silverberg
As a coach at Maple Woods Community College, Chris 
Mihlfeld discovered a talented teen named Albert Pujols.
Chris Thomas
As a coach at Maple Woods Community College, Chris Mihlfeld discovered a talented teen named Albert Pujols.

Mihlfeld smiles broadly. "Don't overanalyze it," he says.

Ben Paynter is a staff writer for the Riverfront Times' sister paper in Kansas City, The Pitch. RFT staff writer Chad Garrison contributed to this story.

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