Postcard from Cardinals spring training for Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023

Postcard from Cardinals spring training for Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023

Weather: Sunny, 84 degrees

Result: Nationals 3, Cardinals 2

By Rob Rains

JUPITER, Fla. – The battle to see who will be their lefthanded relievers should be one of the most spirited in the Cardinals’ camp this spring, and it got off to a competitive start on opening day.

Three of the candidates – Genesis Cabrera, Packy Naughton and Zack Thompson – all worked a scoreless inning, all in 12 pitches or less. Cabrera allowed the only hit, but also had the most velocity, reaching 96 miles per hour on the radar gun.

Naughton needed just eight pitches to record his three outs on a groundball, a strikeout and a fly out.

“No coincidence they were throwing back to back to back,”said manager Oli Marmol. “Very efficient. Velo was there, slider against the lefty from Cabrera was pretty good.”

There are at least seven lefthanders competing for a spot in the Cardinals’ bullpen, with a decision yet to be made about whether they will open the season with one or two pitchers in that role.

“We’ll see how the rest of the pen shakes out and if we stay healthy,” Marmol said.

Here is how Saturday’s game broke down:

High: Brendan Donovan’s home run in the third inning produced the only runs for the Cardinals .(Shown in photo, Tommy Edman congratulates Donovan and Paul DeJong, who had hit a double, making it a two run homer)

Low: The Cardinals had a 2-1 lead going into the eighth inning but couldn’t hold it as James Naile allowed a run in the eighth and Kodi Whitley gave up the go-ahead run in the ninth.

At the plate: The Cardinals were held to five hits, with Paul Goldschmidt, Paul DeJong and Moises Gomez hitting doubles … Willson Contreras made his Cardinals debut and hit a long fly ball to the warning track in center field in his first at-bat … All of the starters came out of the game after two plate appearances … Jordan Walker struck out on a 3-2 pitch in his only at-bat.

On the mound: Adam Wainwright allowed one run on three hits in his two innings, throwing 40 pitches. He said he was mostly focused on the pitch clock and as a result his velocity was a tick off, not throwing a pitch faster than 85 miles per hour … Jake Woodford followed Wainwright and worked two scoreless innings, allowing one hit … Naile and Whitley each allowed two hits in their inning of work.

Worth noting: Marmol had some pointed criticism at umpire C.B. Bucknor after the game. Bucknor, who ejected Marmol from a game last season, refused to shake hands with Marmol before the game. “It just shows his lack of class as a man,” Marmol said. “That’s the bottom line. I don’t think he’s good at his job. It’s unfortunate. It’s super simple. I went out to home to shake his hand. He didn’t want to. He has zero class.” … Marmol isn’t worried about the team’s adjustment to the new rules, which went into effect on Saturday. “They’re not very complicated,” he said. “There’s plenty of time to get adjusted.” … One player still trying to make the necessary adjustments is reliever Giovanny Gallegos, who spent a live batting practice session on Saturday with his main focus on the pitch clock. Marmol said he wants Gallegos to become more comfortable with the required pace before putting him into a game … Catcher Ivan Herrera has decided to remain in camp and not play for Panama in the World Baseball Classic … DeJong will be limited to DH duties through the first few games this spring after spending so much time working on his swing that he has gone through a limited throwing program.

Up next: Miles Mikolas will get the start in Sunday’s game against the Marlins. Among the group of pitchers who could also get into the game is minor-leaguer Cooper Hjerpe, the team’s top pick in last year’s draft who did not pitch in the organization after a heavy spring workload at Oregon State.

Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains

About stlsportspage 2410 Articles
For the latest news and features in St. Louis Sports check out Rob Rains, Editor.