Postcard from Cardinals camp for Sunday March 10
Weather: 86 degrees, partly cloudy
Result: Mets 9, Cardinals 1
JUPITER, Fla. – Sunday was a bad day to be a left-handed pitcher for the Cardinals.
Austin Gomber got the start, three left-handed relievers followed and all had issues in the loss to the Mets in Port St. Lucie.
Gomber, making his first start of the spring, failed to get out of the third inning as he gave up two homers and five runs. Tommy Layne allowed two runs in 1 1/3 innings, Brett Cecil issued a walk and hit a batter and Hunter Cervenka allowed another run in the ninth inning.
Combined, the four left-handers allowed 12 of the Mets’ 13 hits and eight runs over 5 2/3 innings.
Here is how the game broke down:
High: Dylan Carlson continued his impressive spring as the 20-year-old outfielder hit his first homer, off former All-Star closer Edwin Diaz.
Low: Gomber’s bid for the open spot in the starting rotation might have come to an abrupt halt with his poor performance.
At the plate: Other than Carlson’s homer, the Cardinals were held to just four singles. One was from Paul Goldschmidt, who is now hitting .350 for the spring … Tyler O’Neill, starting in center field for the first time this spring, had one of the other singles but also struck out twice … The other hits came from Matt Carpenter and Yairo Munoz, starting in right field, who beat out an infield single … The Cardinals only had two at-bats with runners in scoring position.
On the mound: Gomber was able to record only seven outs, giving up six hits and two walks. The five runs raised his ERA for the spring to 10.29. He has allowed five home runs in seven innings … Layne, a non-roster invitee to camp, allowed three hits and two runs in 1 1/3 innings … Cecil, in his second game of the spring but first since taking a week to work on his mechanics, was able to get out of his inning without giving up a run thanks to a poor baserunning decision by Tim Tebow … Cervenka, another non-roster invitee, allowed the final Mets run on three hits and a walk in the eighth.
Off the field: Manager Mike Shildt said Ryan Helsley, one of the 10 players sent to the minor-league camp on Saturday, will work as a starter for Memphis so he needed to be stretched out before the Triple A season begins … The Cardinals will have their annual meeting with the Players Association before Monday’s game.
Up next: Jack Flaherty, who struck out nine over four scoreless innings in his last start, including seven in a row, will get the start on Monday against the Nationals in Jupiter. St. Louis native Max Scherzer is set to start for Washington.
From earlier this week:
Postcard from Cardinals camp for Saturday March 9
Weather: 79 degrees, partly cloudy
Result: Astros 9, Cardinals 3
By Rob Rains
JUPITER, Fla. – Adam Wainwright’s pitching evolution took another step forward on Saturday.
Continuing to figure out the best way that he get hitters out with his new variety of pitches, Wainwright allowed just two hits over four scoreless innings against a Astros lineup that included regulars Carlos Correa and George Springer.
“My main focus today was controlling my body because last game all I was trying to do was generate (velocity),” Wainwright said. “It kept me on target.
“Big league hitters are great measures of where your stuff’s at and how good you are. They will tell you. Those barrels will let you know. I made a few pitches today that I didn’t love but most of the time I executed when I wanted to.”
Wainwright knows that if he is going to have a successful season he will have to adapt and pitch differently than he has in the past. He is trying to learn what he has to do to make that happen this spring, including throwing a split-finger fastball for the first time in his career.
“I probably threw about 10 of them,” said Wainwright, who threw 63 pitches in his four innings. “I think it’s a pitch I’m actually going to use a lot. I’ve probably never thrown that many changeups in four innings before.
“I was playing with different speeds on my breaking ball and different angles on it. I always want to see what big league hitters tell me on different counts. I like pitching like that – adjust off what the hitter tells me.”
Wainwright says he goes into each start with a plan, but is always reacting to whether that plan happens to be working that day or not.
“It’s more fun doing that sometimes,” he said.
Wainwright’s manager enjoys watching him pitch that way too.
“I liked Waino a lot, four scoreless, commanding counts,” said Mike Shildt. “He was able to make pitches to get out of trouble in the fourth. I thought he was very solid. He’s working on things obviously and executing. He’s always looking for evolution and I appreciate that, as one of many things about him.”
Here is how the game broke down:
High: Tommy Edman, likely headed to be the primary shortstop at Memphis, had two hits, including a two-run homer, raising his spring average to .350.
Low: The Cardinals gave up seven runs in the sixth inning, with four of the runs charged to Connor Jones and three to Genesis Cabrera.
At the plate: The Cardinals were held to just five hits, the two by Edman, the first hit of the spring by Marcell Ozuna and singles by Harrison Bader and Julio Rodriguez … Yadier Molina caught Wainwright while going 0-of-2 … The Cardinals had only three at-bats with runners in scoring position … Nolan Gorman, the team’s top draft pick last June, got a pinch-hit at-bat in the ninth inning and flied out to center field.
On the mound: Alex Reyes followed Wainwright to the mound and pitched a scoreless inning in his second appearance, although he still struggled with his control, walking the first two hitters he faced … Chasen Shreve and Dominic Leone each worked a scoreless inning, also pitching around a walk.
Off the field: The Cardinals renewed the contracts of pitchers Jack Flaherty and Jordan Hicks on Saturday after they could not agree on contract terms for this season. They did agree on one-year deals with all of their other players with zero to three years of service time … The Cardinals made their first roster cuts of the spring, sending 10 players to the minor-league camp: pitchers Cabrera, Giovanny Gallegos, Ryan Helsley, Seth Elledge, Evan Kruczynski and Williams Perez; catchers Dennis Ortega and Rodriguez, infielder Edmundo Sosa and outfielder Adolis Garcia. The moves leave 55 players in camp.
Up next: Austin Gomber will get the start on Sunday as the Cardinals play the Mets in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
Postcard from Cardinals camp for Friday March 8
Weather: 78 degrees, overcast
Results: Cardinals 3, Nationals 2; Cardinals 6, Astros 3
By Rob Rains
JUPITER, Fla. – Playing in his first game of the spring on Friday, even if it was just as the designated hitter, was meaningful for Yadier Molina.
The sight Cardinals’ fans really want to see is scheduled for Saturday, when Molina catches for the first time this spring as Adam Wainwright takes the mound against the Astros.
Molina singled in his first official at-bat of the spring, helping the Cardinals score three runs in the first inning against the Nationals. He lined out in his second at-bat before coming out of the game.
The Cardinals have elected to bring Molina along slowly this spring after he had minor off-season knee surgery.
“I was a little nervous about how I was going to feel but that’s a good nervous,” Molina said. “Everything feels fine. I’m happy to be back. I’m 100 percent fine.”
Molina said he expects to play basically every other day for the rest of the spring.
“Right now I just need to get my body in game shape and get my timing back,” Molina said.
Manager Mike Shildt was impressed with Molina’s first at-bat.
“He proves again he’s a special guy,” Shildt said. “First at-bat, gets down 0-2 and just battles, battles, battles, gauging his timing, then boom, base hit.”
Here is how Friday’s games broke down:
High: Dakota Hudson allowed just one hit over four scoreless innings in the night game against the Astros.
Low: The Cardinals’ projected starting outfield of Marcell Ozuna, Harrison Bader and Dexter Fowler was a combined 1-of-8 on Friday and for the spring are a combined 4-of-50 with one extra-base hit, Fowler’s double on Friday.
At the plate: The Cardinals opened the first inning of the day game with five consecutive hits, scoring three times, but then had only two more hits the rest of the game against the Nationals … Matt Wieters had two hits and an RBI against his former club and also threw out a runner trying to steal second … Ozuna struck out in both of his at-bats on Friday and is now 0-of-14 this spring but Shildt expects him to “find his rhythm” once he begins playing in the field … Fowler doubled in the first inning against the Nationals and finished 1-of-3, but Shildt said the team is still encouraged by his progress … In the night game, Matt Carpenter hit his third homer of the spring and Dylan Carlson drove in two runs with a double, as did minor-leaguer Scott Hurst, brought over for another game with the major-league club … Andrew Knizner served as the DH and went 2-of-4 with an RBI.
On the mound: The best pitching performance of the day came from Hudson, who is making a strong bid to win the open spot in the starting rotation to begin the season. Hudson lowered his spring ERA to 2.35 as he struck out three and did not walk a batter … Michael Wacha started the day game and allowed a pair of homers in the first inning, one to former teammate Matt Adams, but he then settled down and worked three scoreless innings … Andrew Miller pitched a scoreless inning against the Nationals … Daniel Ponce de Leon allowed one run over four innings against the Astros.
Off the field: The Cardinals brought their top pick in last year’s draft, Nolan Gorman, over from the minor league camp for Friday’s game but he did not get into the game. Another of their top picks, Mateo Gil, did appear as a pinch-runner but was forced out at second base … Jedd Gyorko is likely going to miss about another week with a calf issue, Shildt said … Ozuna is scheduled to throw to the bases with the other outfielders in Saturday’s drills and assuming there are no issues afterward could play in left field on Monday … Carlos Martinez is still about a week away from resuming his throwing program.
Up next: The Cardinals host the Astros on Saturday in Jupiter, with Alex Reyes scheduled to make his second appearance of the spring, following Wainwright to the mound.
Postcard from Cardinals camp for Wednesday March 6
Weather: 59 degrees, sunny
Result: Cardinals 9, Yankees 5
Tyler O’Neill collected two more hits for the Cardinals on Wednesday – and still has not hit a single this spring.
O’Neill hit his fourth homer and then added a double, driving in two runs, as the Cardinals finished their three-game trip to Florida’s west coach with a win over the Yankees in Tampa.
O’Neill is making a strong bid to win a spot on the opening-day roster despite the fact he is just 5-of-21, a .238 average. His four home runs tie him for the second most in the majors this spring.
Here is how the game broke down:
High: The best news of the day for the Cardinals probably occurred in Jupiter, where Yadier Molina caught four innings in a squad game, his first action behind the plate except for catching bullpens and live batting practice.
Low: Harrison Bader was 0-of-3 and struck out twice, dropping his spring average to .118, although he did steal his first base of the spring.
At the plate: Paul DeJong also homered for the Cardinals, his first of the spring, and he added one of the team’s five doubles drove in three runs and also stole a base … The team pounded out 14 hits, including the homers by O’Neill in the second and DeJong in the seventh ..Kolten Wong and Paul Goldschmidt also finished with two hits, as Goldschmidt, who served as the DH, raised his spring average to .429 … Rangel Ravelo, set to play first at Memphis, had three hits and is hitting .400. One of Ravelo’s hits was a single off Aroldis Chapman, whom the Cardinals never hit in the regular season, but he was then picked off first.
On the mound: John Gant started and worked three innings, giving up a three-run homer to Austin Romine in the second. Gant, a candidate for the open spot in the starting rotation to begin the year, gave up four hits, walked one and struck out two … Gant was the only one of the six pitchers used in the game who is likely to make the opening day roster, with all of the others set for minor-league assignments … The other two runs for the Yankees came in the ninth inning, off reliever Mike Hauschild.
Off the field: Molina caught Miles Mikolas, taking his turn in the roation by pitching against Cardinals’ minor leaguers as he worked four innings. Molina threw out three baserunners trying to steal second, including prospect Delvin Perez … Francisco Pena, still hoping to be the backup to Molina, reported that he felt better a day after having to come out of a game because of a strained oblique suffered on a swing. Doctors described the injury as “mild” and said Pena might be able to play again in a week, sooner than originally thought.
Up next: The Cardinals get their first day off of the spring on Thursday, then play a pair of split squad games on Friday, hosting the Nationals in the afternoon and also playing a night game against the Astros in West Palm Beach.
Postcard from Cardinals camp for Tuesday March 5
Weather: 76 degrees, cloudy
Result: Phillies 2, Cardinals 1
The top story of the Cardinals’ game on Tuesday against the Phillies in Clearwater, Fla., was supposed to be Alex Reyes making his first appearance of the spring as he works his way back from injuries that forced him to miss virtually all of the last two seasons.
But before Reyes got to the mound, Jack Flaherty got there first. And so too did Jordan Hicks.
Flaherty, making his first start and third appearance of the spring, turned in a dominating four innings which featured seven consecutive strikeouts between the second and fourth. He had nine total, coming against just 13 batters.
In Flaherty’s scoreless outing he gave up just two hits, on a grounder up the middle and a bloop single, and did not walk a batter.
Hicks relieved in the sixth and struck out four in his only inning of work, thanks to a wild pitch. Five of his pitches were timed at 103 miles per hour on the stadium radar gun.
Reyes pitched the seventh inning, and not surprisingly, struggled with his control. He issued two walks, including one to the first hitter he faced, who later came around to score on a sacrifice fly. He did get one strike out, on a curve ball for a called strike three.
Here is how the game broke down:
High: Six Cardinals pitchers combined to strike out 16 Phillies while issuing only two walks, both by Reyes.
Low: Francisco Pena had to leave the game in the seventh inning after an awkward swing and what appeared to be a possible oblique injury which could keep him sidelined for the rest of the spring and cost him a chance to compete against Matt Wieters for the backup catcher spot.
At the plate: The Cardinals were limited to just four hits, including a double by Edmundo Sosa … Their only run came on a pinch-hit single by Max Schrock in the eighth inning … Marcell Ozuna was 0-of-2 and is still hitless this spring, although he did reach base on a walk …
On the mound: Flaherty, Andrew Miller, Hicks, Reyes and Dominic Leone combined to allow just five hits through the first eight innings … The Phillies broke the 1-1 tie in the ninth off Genesis Cabrera, who retired the first two batters he faced but then gave up an infield single, another single and a double.
Off the field: Yadier Molina is scheduled to catch Miles Mikolas on Wednesday in Jupiter in what is being called a “squad” game. Mikolas will be pitching primarily against minor leaguers on a back field at the Roger Dean Chevrolet complex. Molina is still scheduled to begin catching in a major-league game on March 14 and says he likely will serve as the DH a couple of times before that game.
Up next: The Cardinals will wrap up their three-day stay on the west coast of Florida on Wednesday playing the Yankees in Tampa. John Gant will get the start.
Postcard from Cardinals camp for Monday March 4
Weather: 81 degrees, cloudy
Result: Tigers 9. Cardinals 5
One problem Cardinals pitchers have had this spring has been issuing too many walks. On Monday, the problem was giving up too many home runs.
The Tigers hit five in the game in Lakeland, including three in 2 2/3 innings off Austin Gomber.
Adam Wainwright made his second start of the spring and allowed the first Detroit homer, while the other one came off reliever Mike Mayers.
Here is how the game broke down:
High: Kolten Wong hit his first home run of the spring.
Low: Cardinals pitchers allowed five homers to the Tigers, three of which were hit off Austin Gomber.
At the plate: The Cardinals also got a two-run home run from first baseman Rangel Ravelo, who has hit well this spring but doesn’t appear to have a chance at landing a spot on the major-league roster. He also singled in four at-bats and is hitting .333 for the spring … Drew Robinson and Ramon Urias had the other RBIs … Matt Wieters made his first start behind the plate and doubled in two at-bats.
On the mound: Wainwright worked three innings, giving up two runs on five hits. He walked one and struck out three … Gomber was not the only reliever who struggled, as Ryan Helsley allowed four hits and three runs in just 2/3 of an inning … Connor Jones was the only one of five St. Louis pitchers who did not allow a run.
Off the field: The Cardinals have a rotating roster of players for the three consecutive road games on the west coast. Many of the younger players are stayng over for all of the games, while more veterans, including Paul Goldschmidt, will join the team on Tuesday … With an off-day coming Thursday and the minor-league camp opening, it is likely the first roster cuts of the spring will come at the end of this week.
Up next: The Cardinals will be in Clearwater on Tuesday to play the Phillies. Jack Flaherty is scheduled to start, with Alex Reyes expected to make his first appearance of the spring.