Postcard from Cardinals camp for Monday, March 29, 2021

Postcard from Cardinals camp for Monday, March 29, 2021

Weather: 84 degrees, partly cloudy

Result: Cardinals 3, Mets 3 (tie)

By Rob Rains

There were a couple of pleasant developments for the Cardinals on Monday before they left Florida to head into the regular season.

First, Nolan Arenado hit his first home run of the spring – after telling bench coach Ollie Marmol that he was going to do it.

“He said he was going to hit a homer and take it the house and get ready for the season,” said manager Mike Shildt. “I wondered if he was going to touch home plate and keep on going down the line.

“It (the pitch) was down on the plate and he dropped the head on it and it just jumped … Ollie told me he came up to him before the game and said he was going to hit a homer and shut it down. When he rounded first he looked back and pointed at him. it was pretty cool.”

Second, Matt Carpenter did not have to wait until the start of the season to get another hit – he delivered a pinch-hit RBI single in the third inning, batting for Adam Wainwright – matching his total for his first 36 at-bats of the spring.

“That was big for a couple of reasons, primarily for Carp, he finally hit it where they weren’t,” Shildt said. “It found some green and drove in a run off the bench. It was also big because Waino was giving me a lot of grief about hitting for him. He said ‘he’d better get a hit’, so it made it a little more tolerable for Waino.”

Here is how Monday’s game broke down:

High: After finding out on Sunday that he had made the opening day roster, Edmundo Sosa got two hits, including a game-tying home run with two outs in the ninth.

Low: Wainwright allowed two runs in the first inning, retiring only two of the first six hitters he faced before being pulled from the game, then re-entering the game in the second.

At the plate: The Cardinals used what is expected to be their opening day lineup but most of the starters left after just two at-bats. Tommy Edman had one hit, and finished the spring with a .378 average, edging out Tyler O’Neill (.356) for the highest average among the team’s regulars … Sosa had been just 3-of-23 in the spring prior to his two-hit game and his first home run.

On the mound: After coming back in the game Wainwright retired the Mets in order in the second and third innings … Carlos Martinez allowed only one baserunner, on a walk, in his three innings … Andrew Miller and Giovanny Gallegos each worked a scoreless inning, with the other Mets run coming against Ryan Helsley.

Worth noting: The Cardinals announce the five players who will be on the taxi squad for the first trip of the season to Cincinnati and Miami – pitchers Seth Elledge and Kodi Whitley; catcher Ali Sanchez, infielder Jose Rondon and outfielder Lane Thomas … The Cardinals finished their 24-game schedule with an 8-10 record and six ties.

Up next: The Cardinals open the regular season on Thursday against the Reds.

Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains

From earlier this week:

Postcard from Cardinals camp for Sunday, March 28, 2021

Weather: 84 degrees, partly cloudy

Result: Nationals 11, Cardinals 3

By Rob Rains

The good news for Matt Carpenter is that there is only one day left in what has undoubtedly been the longest and most frustrating spring training of his career.

Another 0-of-3 day on Sunday left Carpenter with one hit in 36 at-bats this spring.

But when the start of the regular season arrives on Thursday, Carpenter will be 0-of-0. And he will be in Cincinnati as part of the Cardinals roster, ready to come off the bench and contribute, something manager Mike Shildt is confident will happen.

“Let’s don’t minimize the importance of that role and that responsibility and opportunity,” Shildt said. “He’s had some big hits for us off the bench so that will be an opportunity for him to get his at-bats. It’s a long season and Carp will stay ready to go and opportunities will present themselves.”

After lining out to first in his first at-bat on Sunday, Carpenter drew a walk in his next plate appearance, then grounded into a force out and another groundout in his final two at-bats.

“He’s saving it for the season,” Shildt said. “He lines out the first pitch he sees, then works a walk. I think Carp’s swinging at the ball in the zone, he’s getting barrels to them. He’s got to find some pasture or seats at some point and he will.”

Carpenter’s only hit of the spring was a double on March 14 against the Mets. Since then, he was 0-of-19 over his last eight games.

“Carp’s taken rightful ownership of the process and believing in it,” Shildt said before Sunday’s game. “We’re not naïve about the fact the process hasn’t yielded results but it has yielded a lot of balls that have been hit hard. If you can control the ball after it leaves the bat let us know because we would love to get some of that.

“He’s in a good spot mentally. He’s understanding of his opportunities and he’s ready for them. He’s got a good-level head about where he’s at and what he’s doing.”

Here is how Sunday’s game broke down:

High: After catching all nine innings on Saturday night, Yadier Molina was back in the lineup and caught eight innings, contributing an RBI single and also throwing out Victor Robles trying to steal second.

Low: The Nationals broke a 3-3 tie with eight runs in the eighth inning, doing most of their damage against Tyler Webb and Tommy Parsons. Webb retired only one of five hitters he faced.

At the plate: The Cardinals had just two of their projected regulars in the lineup, Tommy Edman and Molina, and they combined for three of the team’s six hits … John Nogowski drove in a run with a sacrifice fly, his team leading 12th RBI of the spring, as he secured his spot on the opening day roster.

On the mound: Matthew Liberatore made his first start of the spring and worked 2 1/3 innings, allowing three hits and two runs while striking out four … Jake Woodford, who won the final spot in the bullpen to start the season, had 2 2/3 scoreless innings of relief while Jordan Hicks pitched around an infield single and a walk in his scoreless inning.

Worth noting: The opening day roster will include 13 pitchers and 13 position players. Winning the final position player spots along with Nogowski were outfielders Austin Dean and Justin Williams and infielder Edmundo Sosa. Sosa, who is out of options, beat out Jose Rondon and the Cardinals also elected to option Lane Thomas. Woodford made the roster over Kodi Whitley, also optioned back to the minors.

Up next: The Cardinals will wrap up their 28-game spring schedule on Monday against the Mets. Adam Wainwright, originally scheduled to start on Sunday, will start and Carlos Martinez will follow him to the mound.

Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains



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