Postcard from Cardinals camp for Sunday, Feb. 24

Postcard from Cardinals camp for Sunday, Feb. 24

By Rob Rains

Weather: 86 degrees, partly cloudy

Result: Nationals 12, Cardinals 2

JUPITER, Fla. – When Mike Shildt first jotted down three names in the top three spots in the batting order about 10 days ago, it felt good to the Cardinals’ manager.

It felt good again on Sunday when he wrote down the names of Matt Carpenter, Dexter Fowler and Paul Goldschmidt in those spots for the first time on an official game lineup card.

“It was good to see him in there,” Shildt said of Goldschmidt, who made his Cardinals debut, going 0-of-2 as he played four innings in the blowout loss against the Nationals. “It’s great to have that name in the lineup.”

Shildt intends to use those three players in those same spots often during the early part of the spring, and it’s a combination which Carpenter likes, especially if Fowler can bounce back from his disappointing 2018 season.

“I love seeing his name in there,” Carpenter said about Goldschmidt. “It changes everything. It’s a scary thing for opposing pitchers. There can be times when a pitcher could throw 12 pitches and have two walks with Goldschmidt up with nobody out and one mistake and it could be a 3-0 game.

“He’s a complete player and he can improve everybody that he’s around.”

Goldschmidt had a pretty low-key reaction to his first game as a Cardinal, saying he was just glad to be out on the field playing.

“You’re out there trying to get your work in, get some at-bats and make some plays, get ready for the season,” Goldschmidt said. “It’s exciting to get back out there and compete against somebody in a different uniform.

“It hasn’t been that different: show up and get your work in.”

Goldschmidt flied to right and struck out in his two at-bats. He, Carpenter and Fowler are expected to start together every other day for the first part of the spring.

Here is how the game broke down:

High: Drew Robinson, battling for a backup infield spot, had two hits for the second game in a row and is 4-for-7 to start the spring.

Low: Nine pitchers combined to issue 11 walks with both Daniel Ponce de Leon and Genesis Cabrera each walking three as they were unable to complete an inning.

At the plate: The Cardinals had just four hits, one of which was a home run by Tyler O’Neill … Robinson had a single and double, and the Cardinals only other hit was a single by Yairo Munoz … They struck out 10 times and were 0-of-6 with runners in scoring position.

On the mound: Michael Wacha, who did not pitch for the Cardinals the second half of last season because of an oblique injury, allowed one run in two innings, walking one and striking out one. “It was good to get back out on the mound,” he said. “It felt good to be able to compete. It didn’t feel good the last time I was out there. I’m happy with the way everything is going.” … Ponce de Leon was charged with three runs and Cabrera with four runs in his first game with the Cardinals.

Off the field: Andrew Morales had to come out of the game after recording only one out with what the team said was discomfort in his right shoulder. The Cardinals hope to know more about his status on Monday … Alex Reyes, Andrew Miller and Jordan Hicks are all scheduled to throw live batting practice sessions on Monday … Shildt said Adam Wainwright will make his first spring start on Tuesday in West Palm Beach.

Up next: The Cardinals will host the Detroit Tigers on Monday in Jupiter, with two of their top prospects scheduled to pitch. Jake Woodford will get the start with left-hander Evan Kruczynski set to follow him to the mound.

Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains

Postcards from earlier this week:

Postcard from Cardinals camp for Saturday, Feb. 23

By Rob Rains

Weather: 83 degrees, partly cloudy

Result: Cardinals 11, Marlins 1

JUPITER, Fla. – Spring training is certainly off to a better start this year for Max Schrock than was the case a year ago.

Schrock came off the bench to drive in four runs, including hitting one of the Cardinals’ two three-run homers, to highlight a 20-hit attack on Saturday in the first game of the pre-season schedule.

A year ago Schrock did not even get onto the field for a spring training game in Florida after he was injured on the day that he arrived in camp, joining the Cardinals from Oakland in the trade that sent Stephen Piscotty to the A’s.

“Last year he showed up and introduced himself to everyone and an hour later he had a setback and missed most of the camp,” said manager Mike Shildt. “It was good for him to get on the field. I know he’s worked hard, and clearly had good at-bats today.”

The only game Schrock was able to play last year came when the Cardinals played in Montreal just before opening the regular season. Schrock then went to Memphis, where he spent the entire season.

“I got to play the first game, so it’s definitely a better start,” Schrock said. “It was just good to be out there finally and running around a little bit, just playing baseball again. It’s been a while.”

Schrock missed all of last spring after straining an oblique muscle during his first workout.

“Prepared all off-season and then strained my oblique on the first day of camp,” Schrock said. “That was pretty much it. I didn’t do anything after that. It’s nice to be out there for the first game and have some good swings.”

Here’s how the game broke down:

High: The offensive stars were four players who likely will open the season in Memphis: Schrock, Ramon Urias – who hit the team’s second three-run homer – and Lane Thomas and Tommy Edman, who each had three hits.

Low: Jack Flaherty gave up two hits and Miami’s only run and walked one in his one inning of work.

At the plate: Schrock had an RBI single and a double to go with his three-run homer, which came in a five-run sixth inning after Urias hit his three-run homer in a five-run fifth inning … Drew Robinson, competing for a utility infield spot, had a double and an RBI among his two hits while scoring twice … The Cardinals also got two hits from Urias, Andrew Knizner (including a double) and Rangel Ravelo … Jedd Gyorko had the other RBI with a fourth-inning single … 20-year-old non-roster outfielder Dylan Carlson, probably headed for Springfield to start the season, came in off the bench and went 1-of-4, getting an infield single.

On the mound: Miles Mikolas got the start after it was announced before the game that he also will start the regular-season opener on March 28 in Milwaukee. He worked two scoreless innings, retiring all six batters he faced, striking one out … The day’s standout performers on the mound were left-hander Tommy Layne and right-hander Ryan Helsley. Layne, a native of St. Charles, struck out three right-handed batters in his only inning of work while Helsley, who missed much of last season because of arm fatigue, struck out three in his two scoreless innings and hit 100 mph on the stadium’s radar gun.

Off the field: Shildt said there was some discussion, but not much debate, before naming Mikolas to start the first game of the regular season after his big year last season. “It’s a recognition for last year,” Shildt said. “It’s completely well deserved.” … It also was announced before the game that Jose Martinez had agreed to a two-year contract worth a reported $3.25 million that includes a signing bonus, plus incentives. It’s the first multi-year contract in Martinez’s career and came after the team received some overtures this winter about selling Martinez to a team in Japan, where he could have earned more money. “When you look at the impact he’s had on this club and what he means to the team … it just felt like it was the right thing to do,” said John Mozeliak, president of baseball operations. The deal covers the 2020 season, when Martinez would have been eligible for arbitration for the first time.

Up next: Paul Goldschmidt is scheduled to make his Cardinals debut on Sunday in a game in Jupiter against the Washington Nationals. Matt Carpenter and Dexter Fowler also are set for their first appearances of the spring. Michael Wacha will get the start on the mound and will be followed by Daniel Ponce de Leon and John Gant.

Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains

The daily postcards from earlier this week:

Postcard from Cardinals’ camp for Friday, Feb. 22

By Rob Rains

JUPITER, Fla. – The Cardinals will play their first of 31 spring training games, counting split-squad contests, on Saturday and a lot of familiar faces will be in the starting lineup.

Manager Mike Shildt said Friday that Paul DeJong will play shortstop, Kolten Wong will be at second base and Harrison Bader in center field, a group he wants to keep together as often as possible this spring.

Marcell Ozuna, recovering from off-season surgery on his right shoulder, will serve as the designated hitter in the game against the Miami Marlins. The Cardinals will be designated as the visiting team since both teams share Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium.

On Sunday, when the Cardinals will host the Washington Nationals, first baseman Paul Goldschmidt will make his Cardinals’ debut and Matt Carpenter and Dexter Fowler also are set to play.

Miles Mikolas, the likely choice to be the starter for the regular-season opener March 28 in Milwaukee, will get the start on Saturday and be followed to the mound by Jack Flaherty. Each is scheduled to thrown about 40 pitches.

Shildt said he will look at a variety of lineups during ther spring, depending on who is playing, but on Saturday Wong will leadoff with Bader batting second.

More important to Shildt for the spring, however, will be trying to keep the combination of DeJong, Wong and Bader on the field at the same time.

“I had dinner with Jim Edmonds and Tony La Russa in the off-season and we talked about spring training and getting ready and Jim said he always wanted to be with his middle infielders early in camp,” Shildt said. “He said he felt he could catch up with his corner outfielders but wanted to make sure he was with the middle guys. We started digging a little bit and it made some sense.”

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.

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.

 

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For the latest news and features in St. Louis Sports check out STLSportsPage.com. Rob Rains, Editor.

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