By Rob Rains
Watching how former Cardinals perform after they have moved on from St. Louis to new teams always has been a popular topic of conversation.
This year, there will be plenty to talk about.
The focus of fans wanting to keep an eye on some of their favorites from the past could well be in Arizona, where three ex-Cardinals are expected to fill prominent roles with the Diamondbacks.
Two of those players were included in the deal which brought Paul Goldschmidt to the Cardinals, Luke Weaver and Carson Kelly.
Weaver, who spent the spring working on a curve ball, was named the number four starter for the Diamondbacks to begin the season after an outstanding spring. He posted a 1.04 ERA in four starts, striking out 15 and issuing only two walks over a combined 17 innings.
Kelly, who was blocked at getting more playing time with the Cardinals because of Yadier Molina, is expected to get the bulk of the starts behind the plate in Arizona. Kelly, one of three catchers on the Diamondbacks opening day roster, posted a .242 average this spring.
The third former Cardinal who figures prominently in Arizona’s plans for this season is reliever Greg Holland, who was named the closer for the Diamondbacks to start the season despite posting a 9.64 ERA this spring.
A survey found the three Diamondbacks are among 29 former Cardinals to make another team’s roster for Thursday’s opening day along with three who will begin the year on the injured list.
The only other team featuring three ex-Cardinals on the opening day roster is the Cubs – reliever Steve Cishek, infielder Daniel Descalso and outfielder Jason Heyward.
Other members of the 2018 Cardinals who will be on major-league rosters to begin the season were Matt Adams with the Nationals, Greg Garcia with the Padres, Luke Voit with the Yankees, Tommy Pham with Tampa Bay and Tyson Ross with Detroit.
Bud Norris will open the season on the injured list for Toronto after pitching just three innings during the spring.
Among those players, Adams is coming off a big spring, when he tied for second in the majors with six home runs. Voit, who is scheduled to DH on opening day, hit four homers for the Yankees to go with a .289 average while Pham posted a .333 average this spring for the Rays.
There were five more players who appeared in at least one game for the Cardinals last season who have moved on to new organizations this year but failed to land a major-league job to begin the season.
Patrick Wisdom, traded to Texas in December for Drew Robinson, will begin the year with the Rangers’ Triple A team in Nashville. Two former Cardinals, pitcher Tyler Lyons and catcher Steven Baron, will be on the Pirates’ Triple A team in Indianapolis when the minor-league seasons begin next week.
Also assigned to Triple A to begin the year were pitcher Matt Bowman by the Reds and pitcher Preston Guilmet by the Twins.
Left-hander Ryan Sherriff, who underwent arm surgery last season, signed a minor-league contract with the Rays over the winter but did not pitch in the spring as he continues to recover from the surgery.
Here is a team by team look at where former Cardinals will begin this season:
Arizona – Greg Holland, Carson Kelly, Luke Weaver
Atlanta – None
Chicago – Steve Cishek, Daniel Descalso, Jason Heyward
Cincinnati – Zach Duke
Colorado – Seung hwan Oh, Mark Reynolds
Los Angeles – David Freese, Joe Kelly
Miami – None
Milwaukee – None
New York – None
Philadelphia – Pat Neshek, Juan Nicasio
Pittsburgh – None
San Diego – Greg Garcia
San Francisco – None
Washington – Matt Adams, Trevor Rosenthal
Anaheim – Peter Bourjos, Albert Pujols
Baltimore – None
Boston – None
Chicago – Jon Jay (on the injured list)
Cleveland – None
Detroit – Tyson Ross
Houston – Aledmys Diaz
Kansas City – None
Minnesota – None
New York – Adan Ottavino, Luke Voit
Oakland – Stephen Piscotty
Seattle – Marco Gonzales, Mike Leake, Sam Tuivailala (on the injured list)
Tampa Bay – Tommy Pham
Texas – Lance Lynn, Shelby Miller
Toronto – Randal Grichuk, Bud Norris (on the injured list)
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains
Luke Weaver photo by AP courtesy of KSDK Sports