Postcard from Cardinals camp for Saturday, March 20, 2021
Weather: 77 degrees, overcast
Result: Cardinals 5, Astros 2
By Rob Rains
JUPITER, Fla. – When Dylan Carlson missed his attempted bunt in the second inning on Saturday, his manager was happy with happened next.
“He set him up,” said Mike Shildt.
Carlson followed up that miss by swinging at the next pitch – and launching a long home run over the right field wall, his first home run of the spring.
Carlson also singled to left and drew a walk in his perfect day at the plate, continuing to fine-tune his swing and timing as the Cardinals get set to begin the final week of spring training.
After a slow start to the spring with just four hits, all singles, in his 22 at-bats in his first eight games, Carlson has gotten hot lately. In his last four games, he is 4-of-9 with a triple and a home run – and also has drawn three walks.
“It’s more patience for other people than it is for me because I’m confident,” Shildt said. “We saw it three days ago that he kind of locked into it, drove a ball in the gap. He’s been right on some baseballs, his timing has been good, his balance has been great. He really got into one today and had a couple real quality at-bats.
“He showed he’s in a good spot.”
Here is how Saturday’s game broke down:
High: John Nogowski continued to build a strong case for earning a spot on the club with a two-run single, taking over the team lead with 10 RBIs.
Low: Matt Carpenter struck out as a pinch-hitter in his only at-bat – his 11th strikeout in 25 at bats this spring.
At the plate: Nogowski’s two-out single in the seventh inning broke a 2-2 tie and raised his spring average to .391. He drove in Carlson, who singled with one out, and Harrison Bader, who reached on a walk. Max Moroff also walked to load the bases before Nogowski’s hit … The Cardinals added an insurance run in the eighth on a sacrifice fly from Lane Thomas.
On the mound: John Gant worked five innings, giving up just one run on three hits while striking out five … Jordan Hicks threw his first complete inning of the spring. He needed just 13 pitches, 11 strikes, to record the 1-2-3 inning that include a fly out to left and two strikeouts … Jake Woodford and Kodi Whitley followed with scoreless innings to protect the lead.
Worth noting: The Cardinals made their second round of roster cuts after Saturday’s game, sending10 players to the minor-league camp – pitchers Seth Elledge, Angel Rondon and Roel Ramirez; catchers Ivan Herrera, Ali Sanchez and Aaron Antonini; infielders Evan Mendoza and Delvin Perez and outfielders Conner Capel and Scott Hurst. The moves leave 44 players in camp … Shildt said he thought Kwang Hyun Kim’s bullpen session was a positive outing on Saturday as he tries to work his way back from back tightness.
Up next: The Cardinals have their second day off of the spring on Sunday with no activity at the ballpark. Jack Flaherty will get the stert on Monday against Miami.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains
From earlier this week:
Postcard from Cardinals camp for Friday, March 19, 2021
Weather: 78 degrees, sunny
Result: Mets 8, Cardinals 5
By Rob Rains
JUPITER, Fla. – The good news for Carlos Martinez is that he should not have to start any more games against the Mets this spring.
Making his third consecutive start against the Mets on Friday, Martinez failed to get out of the first inning, came back to pitch the second because of the spring re-entry rule but ended up being charged with five runs over three innings.
In his three starts against the Mets, all in Port St. Lucie, Martinez has allowed a combined total of seven runs in 10 innings, coming on 12 hits and five walks.
His only start against somebody other than the Mets was his first start, against the Astros, in which he allowed six runs in 1 2/3 innings, giving him an overall spring ERA of 10.03.
Martinez came into camp expected to be in a competition to be the Cardinals fifth starter. but injuries to Miles Mikolas and Kwang Hyun Kim have elevated him to the third spot in the rotation just two weeks before opening day.
Martinez has at least one more start remaining this spring but the way the schedule lines up, it should not be against the Mets.
Here is how Friday’s game broke down:
High: Non-roster infielder Max Moroff and outfielder Scott Hurst both homered for the Cardinals as they tried to mount a rally after falling behind 7-0.
Low: Two of the runs charged to Martinez scored after he left the game on a grand slam by Francisco Lindor off Tommy Parsons.
At the plate: The Cardinals had just one hit over the first five innings, a single by Edmundo Sosa, and he was immediately erased in a double play … Moroff hit his home run, a two-run shot, in the sixth and Hurst added another two-run shot in the eighth … The other run scored on a double by Evan Mendoza … Matt Carpenter started at second base and in the leadoff spot and was 0-of-2, both strikeouts, plus a a walk. His average for the spring fell to .042.
On the mound: Martinez needed 25 pitches to get two outs in the first inning before he was pulled. He re-entered the game to start the second inning, allowing a home run to Tomas Nido. He pitched into the fourth, allowing another run before leaving with the two runners on base … Matthew Liberatore allowed one unearned run in 1 2/3 innings of work, with three of his five outs coming on strikeouts … Andrew Miller and Giovanny Gallegoes each worked a scoreless inning.
Worth noting: Nolan Gorman made his first appearance in a regular spring game at second base, replacing Carpenter in the sixth. He had only one fielding chance, catching a line drive.
Up next: The Cardinals will play the Astros on Saturday in Jupiter, with John Gant expected to get the start. The Cardinals have eight games left before leaving Florida.
Postcard from Cardinals camp for Thursday, March 18, 2021
Weather: 84 degrees, partly cloudy
Result: Cardinals 7, Marlins 5
By Rob Rains
JUPITER, Fla. – The Cardinals got a glimpse of the future on Thursday night.
Their top minor-league prospect, Nolan Gorman, came up to bat in the eighth inning with the bases loaded and the Cardinals losing by a run. That changed quickly, however, when Gorman lined a double into the gap in right center to clear the bases and send the Cardinals to the win.
“Spring training game or not, we’re down a couple runs in the eighth inning, being able to be in that situation and get that winning run across the plate, it doesn’t matter what type of game you are in, you’re always trying to win,” Gorman said.
“That was super fun. To come up in that spot, guys did a great job of getting on and producing and give us an opportunity to score those runs.”
While much of the attention on Gorman this spring has been on his work transitioning from third base to second, what has made Gorman one of the top’s top prospects in his hitting ability.
“This guy can hit,” said manager Mike Shildt. “For me he’s mature beyond his years and he lets the game come to him. He’s been getting at-bats in camp for a reason the last couple of years. Just because you were a high pick doesn’t mean you automatically start getting at-bats in big-league camp. This guy earns his at-bats and goes about it in a very professional manner.”
Gorman also singled in the seventh inning after starting the spring with just two hirs in his first 18 at-bats, with the game-winning double allowing him to match that total in just two innings.
The 20-year-old Gorman was the Cardinals’ first round pick in the 2018 draft. He has yet to play above Class A because of the canceled minor-league season last summer, sending those two months at the alternate site camp in Springfield. He likely will be back in Springfield playing for the Double A Cardinals when their season begins in May.
“I’ve seen a healthy evolution from an already good approach,” Shildt said. “He’s been able to be smart and take advantage, like a lot of our younger guys, of the Goldy’s and Yadi’s and Arenado’s, the core group. He’s smart enough to ask questions and pay attention to those guys.”
Here is how Thursday night’s game broke down:
High: Paul DeJong, who was just 3-of-25 in his first 10 games this spring, had two hits, including his first home run.
Low: After being nearly unhittable so far this spring, Alex Reyes allowed his first two walks and first run as he failed to complete his scheduled one inning of work.
At the plate: DeJong’s home run came in the first inning, following a double by Paul Goldschmidt. It was the second game in a row that the Cardinals had a two-run homer in the first inning … DeJong then blooped a single to left in his second at-bat and later scored on a single by Austin Dean … Dean and Justin Williams both started the game and collected two hits … In the eighth inning rally, Jose Rondon drew a bases-loaded walk on a 3-2 pitch to force in the first run of the inning, before Gorman’s double.
On the mound: Daniel Ponce de Leon allowed four runs in his five innings of work, giving up four hits and walking three while recording four strikeouts … Tyler Webb and Genesis Cabrera each threw a scoreless inning of relief … Reyes needed 28 pitches to record his two outs, both on strikeouts, while walking two, giving up one hit and throwing a wild pitch … Zack Thompson, one of the Cardinals top pitching prospects, worked the ninth, allowing a two-out infield single and a walk while striking out two.
Worth noting: The Cardinals remain optimistic that Kwang Hyun Kim will not have to miss the start of the regular season but say it is still too soon to predict whether ot not that will happen after he has been slowed by back tightness. Kim threw a side session on Wednesday, which Shildt described as having “a little more intensity than we thought might happen.” He will throw either a live batting practice or a simulated game in the next few days, at which point the Cardinals will decide his next steps … Their other injured projected starter, Miles Mikolas, is scheduled to play catch for a second time on Friday after his first session on Wednesday was “positive.” Mikolas has been dealing with shoulder discomfort this spring and definitely won’t be ready for the start of the season.
Up next: The Cardinals play the Mets in Port St. Lucie on Friday, with Carlos Martinez getting the start.
Postcard from Cardinals camp for Wednesday, March 17, 2021
Weather: 81 degrees, clear
Result: Cardinals 4, Astros 4 (tie)
By Rob Rains
JUPITER, Fla. – There is nothing a starting pitcher likes more in an away game than having the lead before he throws his first pitch.
It happened for Adam Wainwright on Wednesday night – something he thinks could be repeated often by the Cardinals during the regular season.
Tommy Edman led off the game with a single, followed by a home run by Paul Goldschmidt that immediately staked Wainwright and the Cardinals to a 2-0 lead.
The Cardinals have not settled on a batting order for the regular season, but seem to like the idea of having Edman first, Goldschmidt second and Nolan Arenado third, although Arenado had the night off on Wednesday night.
“Today was a great example of what we can make happen during the season,” Edman said. “All of a sudden we’re up 2-0 two batters into the game. Hopefully if all goes well thee will be a lot of situations like that this year. Then with Nolan hitting behind him it could be 3-0.
“With those two guys hitting behind me, whether it’s 2-3 or 3-4, I know the more times I get on base obviously the better.”
Manager Mike Shildt said he likes the look of hitting Goldschmidt second, something he never did last year – but then he didn’t have Arenado to hit behind him. Goldschmidt did hit second in 55 games in 2019.
“I’m liking what we see there,” Shildt said. “We still have 10 games left before we break camp, but I think it’s a positive look.”
Wainwright likes what he has seen from the top of the order as well this spring, not just in Wednesday night’s game.
“Seeing what Tommy Edman is doing is really exciting and that’s not even counting what Paul Goldschmidt is doing,” said Wainwright. “We have a pretty dynamic lineup if guys get going. I’m hoping Nolan brings over that infectious hitting that Colorado can get over there in Denver sometimes where the wheels just don’t stop turning.
“You go into a game with a game plan and it never entails the first guy getting on base. All of a sudden you find yourself in the stretch right away and that can complicate a lot of things.”
Here is how Wednesday night’s game broke down:
High: Edman was 3-of-3, beating the shift twice, and stole a base, but also was picked off second. The three hits raised his spring average to .417.
Low: Yadier Molina grounded into two double plays, something he has done only six times in more than 2,000 regular-season games in his career, the last time coming in 2009.
At the plate: Goldschmidt’s homer was his first of the spring and came after he homered twice in the Cardinals simulated game on Tuesday … Paul DeJong also singled in the first, just his third hit of the spring, but the Cardinals had only four more hits the rest of the game … Matt Carpenter was 0-of-2 but reached base twice on a walk and a Houston error … The Cardinals, aided by a Houston error, scored the tying and go-ahead run in the eighth, getting a double by Max Moroff and a sacrifice fly Austin Dean in the inning … They were 0-of-10 with runners in scoring position on the night.
On the mound: After three perfect innings, Adam Wainwright allowed more hits (3) in the fourth than he had allowed (2) in his first 12 innings this spring. The hits led to one run, but Wainwright was able to get out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam. Wainwright also gave up a home run to Jose Altuve in the fifth – Altuve has four of the seven hits Wainwright has allowed this spring … Jordan Hicks struggled with his control in his second appearance, walking two and hitting a batter while recording two outs. His own fielding error led to an unearned run. Hicks threw 21 pitches against six hitters, one less than he threw to one hitter in his first game on Sunday … Jake Woodford gave up a home run in the eighth that tied the game 4-4 … Kodi Whitley pitched a scoreless ninth inning.
Worth noting: The Cardinals used what well could be their opening day lineup on April 1 in Cincinnati with the exception of Carpenter playing third instead of Arenado. Arenado had a regular day off, according to Shildt, after getting five at-bats in the simulated camp game on Tuesday … The error by Hicks was the first committed by the Cardinals in their last six games … Tyler O’Neill also stole his first base of the spring, but the Cardinals had two runners picked off, Edmans at second and Dylan Carlson at third.
Up next: Daniel Ponce de Leon, trying to secure a spot in the rotation to open the year if Kwang Hyun Kim is not ready to pitch, will get the start on Thursday night against the Marlins.
Postcard from Cardinals camp for Monday, March 15, 2021
Weather: 79 degrees, partly cloudy
Result: Cardinals 4, Nationals 2
By Rob Rains
JUPITER, Fla. – Paul DeJong was one of the best players in Florida last spring, leading everybody in the state with five homers to go along with 11 RBIs and a .467 average when spring training was shut down after 12 games.
It’s been a different story this spring.
DeJong has had a difficult time so far in camp – at least when it comes to the measurable results – and Monday was no exception. He struck out twice against Max Scherzer and then grounded into a force out that ended his day.
The 0-of-3 day left DeJong with just two hits in 23 at-bats in eight games, an .087 average. He hasn’t had a hit in his last five games, has struck out in six of his last 13 at-bats and has not driven in a run all spring.
DeJong also has drawn only one walk.
“Spring training, not a high number of at-bats, seeing the ball really well, takes are good, just finishing up his timing with his swing,” said manager Mike Shildt. “I have a lot of confidence Paul is going to be more than ready to go when the season goes and I’ve got zero concerns about Paul DeJong offensively.
“He’s going to be just fine, his swing is going to be right there. He’s getting very close, just a matter of a few more at-bats, seeing some pitching, but Paul’s going to be in great shape.”
Shildt said he and DeJong actually had talked about the difference between last year and this spring – at least in the results – before Monday’s game.
“I don’t think anybody remembers any spring training batting championships,” Shildt said. “We were kind of laughing about it, good-naturedly. It’s good to have a nice spring. Everybody wants success all the time. But the good news for Paul ultimately is he knows how to hit. He’s been a real productive hitter in the big leagues for years, an All-Star two years ago. Paul is going to be just fine. He will be there when the bell rings April 1.”
Here is how Monday’s game broke down:
High: The Cardinals’ three-run rally in the fifth featured an RBI triple by Dylan Carlson, a pinch-hit double by Nolan Gorman that drove in Carlson and an RBI single from Nolan Arenado that scored Gorman.
Low: Matt Carpenter was 0-of-3 and is now 1-of-20 with eight strikeouts this spring.
At the plate: The Cardinals had to face Max Scherzer for the third time in 11 days and had just two hits in his four innings of work, a double by Tyler O’Neill and a single by Arenado, and struck out seven times. “It’s good to face Max in the spring,” Arenado said. “He’s obviously not going to help you feel better, but he’s going to help you get ready a lot quicker because when you are facing one of the greats they get you ready a little bit quicker.” … O’Neill also had a single, raising his spring average to .500 … Carlson’s triple was his first extra-base hit of the spring.
On the mound: John Gant strengthened his hold on a spot in the rotation to open the season, allowing four hits (one a first-inning two-run homer by Ryan Zimmerman) in 4 2/3 innings. He walked two and struck out three … Andres Miller, Tyler Webb, Genesis Cabrera and Alex Reyes each threw a scoreless inning of relief and combined allowed only one hit in their four innings, a single off Cabrera, while not walking a batter and recording five strikeouts.
Worth noting: Kwang Hyun Kim’s back tightness has responded to treatment and he started playing catch on Monday, from 90 feet, and hopes to stretch out to 120 feet on Tuesday, Shildt said. How quickly he can progress from there will determine if he can begin the season in the rotation. “He should be back to where he was (before the setback) fairly soon but is there going to be enough time for him to get the work in he needs to get built up to start the season? Time will tell,” Shildt said. “In the best-case scenario it will be close.” … Dakota Hudson, expected to miss all of this season as he recovers from Tommy John surgery, also played catch for the first time since his surgery … The Cardinals have not committed an error in their last five games … Tickets for the Cardinals 13 home games in April will go on sale starting on Tuesday for fans buying tickets to three or more games. Single game tickets will go on sale on Wednesday. All tickets will be sold through the team’s website, cardinals.com, or by phone. Tickets will be sold in pods of up to four tickets. The ticket sales will begin at 11 a.m. CDT.
Up next: The Cardinals will have a camp day on Tuesday with Jack Flaherty and Johan Oviedo among the pitchers scheduled to work in a 5-inning simulated game. They will play the Astros on Wednesday night in West Palm Beach.
Postcard from Cardinals camp for Sunday, March 14, 2021
Weather: 86 degrees, partly cloudy
Result: Mets 7, Cardinals 5
By Rob Rains
JUPITER, Fla. – When Jordan Hicks thought about what his first game in 21 months would be like, he probably hoped it would be something similiar to what it turned out to be – 22 pitches, 18 of which were strikes.
He just never thought they would all be against the same batter.
Hicks came into Sunday’s game in Port St. Lucie to begin the fifth inning, and his first pitch to Luis Guillorme was a called strike at 99.8 miles per hour. Whatever competitive fire Hicks had missed since his last game on June 22, 2019 before Tommy John surgery he quickly found over the next 21 pitches.
In an at-bat that lasted longer than any regular season at-bat in the majors since pitch tracking data began in 1988, Hicks eventually walked Guillorme on his 22nd pitch.
In between the first and 22nd pitch, Hicks worked through all of his pitches, threw two fastballs clocked at 101 mph, four more at 100 and three which were timed at 99 mph.
Guillorme fouled off 16 of the pitches, all after Hicks was ahead 0-2 in the count.
“I’ve never seen an at-bat like that,” Cardinals pitcher Jack Flaherty said in a message on Twitter.
Neither had Hicks, who needed only 11 pitches to complete a 1-2-3 inning in a B game on a back field against Washington on Wednesday.
“Ir was definitely a good battle but it was probably the last thing I thought was going to happen to be honest because it’s never happened before,” Hicks said. “I don’t think I’ve had a 13-pitch at-bat before in my career. I’m glad I battled him and was able to throw that many strikes and compete.”
The Cardinals pulled Hicks after the at-bat, even though Sunday was the first day pitchers were supposed to have to face three batters before coming out of the game.
“Common sense prevailed,” said manager Mike Shildt. “I’ve got to applaud the umpiring crew. They understood it, and ended up calling out the trainer (to circumvent the rule). Jordan felt great. I will pay the fine 10 out of 10 times to protect the player in a situation like this.”
Hicks’s critique of his outing was that it was good, but could have been better.
“My stuff could have been a little sharper,” Hicks said. “The B game I only threw fastballs so today if I got ahead I was going to throw the slider. It’s there to get a bunch of foul balls but it’s not there as my put-out pitch yet, not where I want it, but we’ll get there.
“I felt really good. It was fun to be out there again and battle my ass off. I’m very happy with myself.”
Shildt was happy as well.
“A lot of positives to take out of it,” he said. “I could not have been more encouraged. The velocity was there. The second pitch he threw in the at-bat, that slider was dirty. In order to have that long an at-bat means the guy is throwing a lot of strikes.”
Hicks hopes to throw just as high a percentage of strikes in his next appearance – just against more than one batter.
Here is how Sunday’s game broke down:
High: Tyler O’Neill stayed hot, going 3-of-3 with a double and two singles and scored twice. He raised his spring average to .476 (10 of 21).
Low: After Hicks left the game, Garrett Williams hit two batters and walked the third and all three later came around to score in the Mets’ five-run inning.
At the plate: Jose Rondon, fighting to earn a spot as a backup infielder, drove in three more runs with a two-run single and a sacrifice fly … After drawing a walk in his first at-bat and then hitting a deep fly to center, Matt Carpenter got his first hit of the spring, an RBI double, snapping his 0-of-16 streak … Yadier Molina had two hits to raise his spring average to .333 … Harrison Bader hit in the leadoff spot and was 0-for-4, dropping his spring average to .143.
On the mound: After a rough first inning in which he allowed four hits and two runs, Carlos Martinez settled down and allowed just one more hit and a walk over the next three innings … Tommy Parsons threw two more scoreless innings and has not allowed an earned run in 8 1/3 innings this spring … Jake Woodford worked a 1-2-3 eighth.
Worth noting: In Guillorme’s next at-bat in the sixth, he lined out on the first pitch. “That’s baseball,” Shildt said. … Flaherty’s next appearance will be in a simulated game on the Cardinals’ camp day on Tuesday, keeping him from having to pitch another game against the Nationals.
Up next: John Gant will get the start in Monday’s game against the Nationals in Jupiter. Max Scherzer will start for Washington, his third consecutive game against the Cardinals.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains