Postcard from Cardinals spring training camp for Monday, Feb. 27, 2023
Weather: 82 degrees, sunny
Result: Cardinals 12, Mets 7
By Rob Rains
JUPITER, Fla. – It was a line drive out to left field, but to Dylan Carlson, it revealed much more than how the result was measured in the box score.
That at-bat in the fourth inning of the Cardinals’ game on Monday, coming from the left side of the plate, just felt different than many of the swings he made a year ago when he was battling a wrist injury.
One inning later, again batting lefthanded, Carlson lined a double into the gap in left center that brought in three runs and capped a five-run inning in the win over the Mets.
“The at-bat before, when I hit the line drive to left on a high fastball, that kind of got me locked in and got my swing back towards the opposite field,” Carlson said. “It just kind of set me up for that next at-bat.
“It (his wrist) feels a lot stronger. It’s one of those things where you feel a lot more free at the plate. You’re not protecting anything, you’re not defensive. It feels good to go up there and kind of just play again.”
Carlson won’t use the injury as an excuse for his offensive struggles last year batting lefthanded, but he also knows it played a role in his performance.
“There definitely were stretches where it didn’t feel great and it may or may not have hindered certain mechanics, certain things I’ve always done in my swing,” he said. “It’s one of those things that mentally too you just kind of had to get over.”
Manager Oli Marmol can see the difference.
“That was a really good one, and he’s shown the ability to do that,” Marmol said. “As he continues to add strength and overall bat speed we’ll see a little bit of what we saw today. Our hope is that he will continue to do that and will sustain it.”
Here’s how Monday’s game broke down:
High: Brendan Donovan hit his second two-run home run in as many games and drove in three runs.
Low: Chris Stratton struggled in his inning of work, allowing three hits and two runs, walking three and throwing two wild pitches.
At the plate: The Cardinals trailed 4-2 before the five-run fifth, which also included an RBI single from Donovan and a run-scoring double from Lars Nootbaar … Luken Baker added to the lead with a three-run homer as the Cardinals reserves scored three runs in the seventh and three more in the eighth … Masyn Winn got the start at shortstop and had a single in three at-bats, stole a base and scored two runs.
On the mound: Connor Thomas allowed two runs as he made the start and worked two innings … Tink Hence, one of the top prospects in the organization, made his spring debut and worked a scoreless inning that included retiring Pete Alonso on a groundball … Andre Pallante, Jake Walsh, Anthony Misiewicz and Ryan Loutos also each worked a scoreless inning … Tommy Parsons gave up two home runs in the ninth.
Worth noting: Jack Flaherty pitched two innings in a simulated game on the back fields. Jordan Montgomery and Steven Matz will do the same thing on Tuesday … Marmol confirmed that he had heard from MLB about his comments directed toward umpire C.B. Bucknor but declined to say whether he had been fined. He and Bucknor did shake hands during the pre-game meeting at home plate before Monday’s game.
Up next: The Cardinals will play their first game away from Jupiter on Tuesday, against the Nationals in West Palm Beach. Matthew Liberatore is scheduled to get the start.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains