Postcard from Cardinals spring training camp for Thursday, March 2, 2023
Weather: 82 degrees, sunny
Result: Astros 6, Cardinals 0
By Rob Rains
JUPITER, Fla. – Every player has adjustments they try to make in spring training and one of the ways Jake Woodford thinks he is improving has nothing to do with what happens on the mound.
Woodford did what he could do on Thursday as he allowed only one run, on a home run, and struck out five in three innings in the Cardinals’ loss to the Astros.
What he also did was admit that he brought an attitude with him to Florida that he was not going to worry about things out of his control – like when he pitches, and how much he pitches.
“I just focus on what I can control,” he said. “That was a big thing for me last year – show up every day and do everything I could to be ready to pitch regardless of the role. That’s the attitude I’m taking into this year, just being prepared and being ready.”
Woodford was the odd-man out numerous times last season, being shuttled back-and-forth to Triple A, and nothing about his situation has really changed. Barring injury, the starting rotation is set, and Woodford is one of several pitchers hoping to earn a spot in the bullpen.
“Stuff that is outside of my control there’s no real sense in worrying about that,” he said. “If you ask any player that gets to the big leagues there’s growth not just physically and in your game but mental (growth) is a huge aspect of the game as well. I’m always going to be refining that.”
In his two appearances this spring, Woodford has allowed only the one run over five innings, recording six strikeouts. He likely will get a chance to start a game next week when the Cardinals make a two-game trip across the state to play in Lakeland and Tampa, his hometown.
“I think I’ve worked on what they want me to work on,” Woodford said. “I don’t feel like it’s perfect yet but I definitely feel like I’m in a good spot.”
Manager Oli Marmol knows Woodford has been in a tough spot the last two years, and he appreciates his attitude toward the situation.
“There’s times in your career and certain players that have to live that way for a while and he’s been one to handle that really well,” Marmol said. “He’s been in the situation where he’s gone back and forth, sometimes he saw it coming and sometimes it wasn’t ideal but he still handled it well.
“I feel like the last adjustments he’s made as far as the slider goes, he’s taken to it and has some ownership over it now which is a good thing to see.”
Here’s how Thursday’s game broke down:
High: Masyn Winn unleased a throw from shortstop clocked at 99.9 miles per hour to get an out at first bast to end the sixth inning.
Low: The Cardinals were held to only three hits, all singles, and had a total of five baserunners.
At the plate: The three hits came from Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt and Winn, who also stole a base … Willson Contreras hit into a double play and struck out in two at-bats. He is now hitless in seven at-bats this spring with four strikeouts.
On the mound: Adam Wainwright allowed three runs in three innings in his last start before leaving for the World Baseball Classic but a couple of non-plays on defense forced him to get five outs in the first inning and he also was dealing with a burn on a finger on his throwing hand. His velocity was up slightly from his first start … Jordan Hicks worked 1 2/3 innings, giving up three hits and a run, with two strikeouts and no walks.
Worth noting: Jack Flaherty’s first start of the spring has been pushed back a day, to Sunday, because of some minor leg discomfort. Connor Thomas is expected to get the start instead on Saturday … Jordan Montgomery also will pitch on Sunday, keeping him on his normal schedule … Ryan Helsley and Drew Ver Hagen got in their innings on Thursday in a simulated game on a back field.
Up next: Miles Mikolas will get the start on Friday against the Marlins.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains