Postcard from Cardinals spring training camp for Sunday, March 5, 2023

Postcard from Cardinals spring training camp for Sunday, March 5, 2023

Weather: 85 degrees, sunny

Result: Mets 7, Cardinals 1

By Rob Rains

JUPITER, Fla. – Even in spring training, a pitcher doesn’t like to see an ERA of 16.20 next to his name.

After his first two innings of the spring, however, that was the number next to Jordan Hicks’ name going into his appearance on Sunday.

For the first time this spring, Hicks worked a clean inning, retiring all three hitters he faced in the sixth inning of the Cardinals’ loss to the Mets on a line out and two groundballs.

Hicks needed only 14 pitches to get the three outs, nine of them strikes, as the outing lowered his ERA to 10.13.

“I didn’t feel terrible last time, I was getting a lot of weak contact,” said Hicks, who had issues with the pitch clock in his first appearance. “I’ve been working on some stuff with my  mechanics and it just feels a lot better. It felt good. Try to drill in the mechanical stuff I was working on, kind of like in-game adjustments I just incorporated two days ago.”

Manager Oli Marmol liked what he saw.

“To land his slider as many times as he did was good,” Marmol said. “That was a positive to build off for sure.”

Hicks is just glad that this has been a normal spring, unlike last year, when he had to deal with the lockout and some uncertainty of whether he was going to be a starter or a reliever.

“I think the lockout made everything weird last year for me personally,” Hicks said. “I came in, I didn’t get to build up as a starter. I don’t think I had that opportunity like people keep saying.

“This feels clean, it feels good.”

Here is how Sunday’s game broke down:

High: Zack Thompson had his third scoreless inning of the spring, striking out two.

Low: Tyler O’Neill was hitless in two at-bats, dropping his spring average to .143.

At the plate: The Cardinals were held to five hits. Their only run came on a home run by Tres Berrera, expected to be one of the catchers at Memphis when the regular season begins … That was the only extra-base hit for the Cardinals, who were 0-of-7 with runners in scoring position … Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Gorman were each 0-of-3 and struck out twice.

On the mound: Jordan Montgomery made his first start of the spring, allowing four runs on five hits, one of which was a home run by Francisco Lindor. One of the runs was unearned because of his own throwing error on a play at third base … Ryan Helsley allowed two hits, walked one and gave up two runs in his inning of work … Wilking Rodriguez, the Rule 5 acquisition, worked a scoreless inning.

Worth noting: All of the remaining players heading to the World Baseball Classic are scheduled to leave camp on Monday with the U.S. players – Adam Wainwright, Miles Mikolas, Nolan Arenado and Goldschmidt – plus O’Neill (Canada) heading to Phoenix for the first round of the tournament … Matthew Liberatore worked the equivalent of three innings in a live batting practice session on a back field.

Up next: Jack Flaherty, originally scheduled to pitch on Sunday, will get the start on Monday against the Astros. The Cardinals wanted to make sure he was well hydrated after feeling ill earlier in the week. Steven Matz is scheduled to follow him to the mound.

Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains

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