By Rob Rains
The first day of the Cardinals summer camp 2020 on Friday was a lot more fun for John Mozeliak than when he went through that experience growing up in Colorado.
“The summer camp I went to was quite different, more like experiencing nature and not necessarily sports,” said Mozeliak, the team’s president of baseball operations. “I wasn’t much of a summer camp guy. I think I went once and didn’t think it was all that much fun.
“This will be fun. It’s going to be exciting. I think it’s good for the city of St. Louis and our region to have something else to think about and something else to watch.”
On the first of 19 scheduled days of workouts leading up the delayed start of the 60-game season, the Cardinals did all of the normal spring training-type activities – pitchers were on the mound throwing live batting practice to hitters, other pitchers threw bullpen sessions, fielders took ground balls and hitters took their turn in the batting cages.
In other words, Mozeliak said, even in a quiet and empty Busch Stadium, it sounded like baseball.
“I’ve spent a lot of time at ballparks, and one of my favorite times to be at a ballpark is when it’s quiet,” he said. “You can almost hear everything that is going on.”
Mozeliak said the day had much the same feel as walking around the back fields of the Cardinals complex in Jupiter on a February morning, except for the difference in the temperature.
“it’s very natural, organic,” he said. “Especially today, those sounds are welcoming music to our ears. It’s what we are used to seeing and hearing, things that we have missed.”
Being back on the field was a pleasant experience for Paul Goldschmidt and Mikes Mikolas, the two players who took turns speaking to reporters in zoom sessions.
Goldschmidt said he didn’t really have any summer camp experiences growing up in Texas but Mikolas seemed to take advantage of almost every sport possible during his youth.
“My parents both worked so when school was over I did baseball camps, basketball, swimming, tennis, golf,” he said. “I went to a kayak camp one year and that was fun. This is going to be fun.
“My major in college was sports and recreation management so if they need somebody to help run this camp I have a degree and I am qualified to do so.”
A baseball field was where manager Mike Shildt spent most of his summers growing up in Charlotte, N.C., where he worked for the minor-league baseball team, although he said he did go to a baseball camp when he was 13, which was “pretty cool.”
“I wasn’t a big camp guy growing up,” Shildt said. “My camp was exactly what I’m doing now, just a lot smaller and with a different role. Growing up I was shining shoes and doing laundry and working the scoreboard. That was my summer camp for pretty much every summer of my youth. It was a pretty good gig.”
Shildt also likes his current gig too, and watching his players back on the field on Friday only reinforced the feeling of how much he, and they, have missed it since March 12, a span of 113 days.
““It felt very familiar,” Shildt said. “We picked right back up in terms of the rhythm and everybody being invested in baseball and getting after it. In some ways it seemed like we didn’t miss a day, but in other ways it felt like it had been 15 years.
“This is what these guys have been doing since they were small and could pick up a ball and a bat. They were clearly excited to get back, to be together and get back to baseball.”
Some of the day’s news and notes:
*Pitcher Giovanny Gallegos remains in Mexico because of travel issues, Mozeliak said. He did not have any answers about when Gallegos might be able to travel to St. Louis or how that could potentially impact his ability to be ready for the start of the season.
*Some older coaches around the major-leagues are being assigned to other roles this season as they fall into a higher risk category for the coronavirus but Mozeliak said he expects Willie McGee, 61, and Mike Maddux, 58, to be with the team. Both were on hand for Friday’s workout. They are the two oldest coaches on the staff.
Mozeliak said it is possible the issue could be revisited once everybody gets used to all of the protocols which will be in place both for the camp and the season, but that he does not expect anything to change.
*In addition to Gallegos, four players on the 45-man roster missed the workout. Carlos Martinez, ivan Herrera, Genesis Cabrera and Elehuris Montero did not arrive from the Dominican Republic until late Wednesday and were still awaiting the results of their coronavirus testing so they could be cleared to practice. Shildt said he expects all to be on the field on Saturday.
*Major League Baseball announced the results of the first round of testing on Friday, reporting there were 38 positive tests out of 3,185 players and staff tested. Thirty-one players tested positive and seven staff members. Nineteen teams had one or more positive tests but no specific information was provided.
*Jack Flaherty was one of the pitchers throwing live batting practice and Maddux told Shildt he looked like he was in “early-July” form. He is expected to be the opening day starter on July 24.
*Mikolas said his family decided to stay at their home in Florida for the season because of health concerns. He has three young children. “It just made more sense,” he said. He said he is fully recovered from the sore arm he had in spring training.
Mikolas had the best answer of the day for questions about all of the adjustments players will have to make this season, especially when they are on the road.
“I was really going to try to hit every Waffle House I could this year, but unless they deliver to the hotel I think I am going to have to wait on that journey for a year,” he said. “It’s an easy sacrifice.”
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains
Andrew Miller photo by AP courtesy of KSDK Sports