Postcard from Cardinals camp for Thursday, Feb. 21

Postcard from Cardinals camp for Thursday, Feb. 21

By Rob Rains

JUPITER, Fla. – The Cardinals’ commitment to Dexter Fowler as their starting right fielder will be on display as the spring training games begin this weekend.

Manager Mike Shildt said Thursday that Fowler is expected to be in the lineup for the second game on Sunday, probably hitting second in the lineup.

Shildt knows the construction of the lineup is a frequent topic of conversation among Cardinals’ fans and he has suggested during the off-season he also will consider hitting Paul Goldschmidt second behind Matt Carpenter.

“There’s a lot of possibilities,” Shildt said. “Dexter is a possibility to hit second; I can’t take that off the table for sure. You might see that early in the spring.

“He also could hit down in the lineup to lengthen the lineup out. Dexter has an exceptional ability to command the strike zone. When Dexter is at his best he is really picking up the ball. When you are feeling good about your swing you don’t have to expand a little bit and trust all your abilities a little bit more.”

Shildt said nobody on the team has lobbyed him about hitting in a particular position.

“Everybody has been putting the team first and I really appreciate that,” Shildt said.

If the team elects to use Goldschildt in the second spot, that will probably mean that Paul DeJong would hit third.

Shildt said he and Fowler have mapped out a plan for him for the first part of the spring schedule.

“We looked at past spring trainings which allowed him to get off to good starts and crafted his early spring for the first 12 games based on that,” Shildt said.

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Earlier postcards:

Postcard from Cardinals camp for Wednesday, Feb. 20

By Rob Rains

JUPITER, Fla. – Adam Wainwright had his competitive juices flowing on Wednesday.

With a day off later this spring at stake, plus getting their clubhouse dues paid for the spring, Wainwright’s team won the inaugural PFP (pitchers fielding practice) tournament on an otherwise quiet day at the Cardinals’ spring training camp.

Wainwright liked the idea of turning some of the routine, and often boring drills, into a team competition.

“Any time you are competing you are practicing,” Wainwright said. “That’s a big part of what we do.”

As the Cardinals’ pitcher with the most service time in the majors, Wainwright had the first pick among the eight captains in the draft of the other pitchers. His first pick was Alex Reyes, and he later added Williams Perez, a non-roster right-hander, and Genesis Cabrera to his team.

The competition consisted of four drills, including grounders, pop ups and covering first base. A judging system penalized errors, or bobble,s and rewarded good plays. After advancing to the finals against a team led by Andrew Miller, the top-seeded Wainwright team got to pick the drill for the finals and chose ground balls.

There was no way, Wainwright said, he was going to pick covering first.

”I would rather run a half marathon than do that drill one more time,” he said.

The Cardinals have full-squad workouts planned for Thursday and Friday before their first spring training game on Saturday against the Marlins.

Postcard from Cardinals camp for Tuesday, Feb. 19

By Rob Rains

JUPITER, Fla. – The Cardinals suffered their first injury setback of the spring on Tuesday, announcing that Carlos Martinez has been removed from the throwing program for at least two weeks.

Martinez reportedly felt “weakness” in his right shoulder, a problem which bothered him much of last season. Manager Mike Shildt said Martinez will spend the two weeks working on strengthening his shoulder after an MRI on Monday did not reveal any new injury to his shoulder.

The Cardinals wanted Martinez to come to camp prepared to rejoin the starting rotation, but this development might keep him from being ready to begin the season as a starter, opening up the question again about whether the best spot for Martinez might be in the bullpen.

The team has several alternatives to replace Martinez in the rotation, including Alex Reyes and Dakota Hudson.

The Cardinals went through their second full-squad workout of the spring on Tuesday and have three more days of workouts before playing their first pre-season game on Saturday.

Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains

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