Weather: 77 degrees, partly cloudy
Result: Cardinals 6, Nicaragua 4
By Rob Rains
JUPITER, Fla. – The Cardinals played, and won, a game on Thursday that won’t count in the Grapefruit League standings. None of the statistics from the game will show up either -officially.
In the mind of manager Oli Marmol, however, what happened in the game still counted.
That wasn’t good news for Paul DeJong, still trying to fight his way out of a prolonged offensively slump. He was hitless in three at-bats, striking out swinging twice. He also drew a walk in his other plate appearance.
“Today wasn’t a great day,” Marmol said, “if you’re just looking at the at-bats, the swings, but it was just one day. You throw him back out there and see what it looks like over time.”
Officially DeJong has two hits in nine at-bats, striking out four times. His two hits were a double and a home run.
DeJong, who started at shortstop, has been slowed in the field because of a sore arm which limited him to DH duties through the early games.
Marmol is hopeful that playing shortstop, especially while Tommy Edman is away at the WBC, will give DeJong more chances to get his swing going.
“We’re going to continue to look at it over a larger body of work,” Marmol said. “I think it’s unfair for the amount of at-bats that he’s gotten, the amount of consistent at-bats that he’s gotten, to say we have something or we don’t.
“They (the statistics) all count in the spring because I’m watching.”
This is how Thursday’s game broke down:
High: Jeremy Rivas, the 19-year-old shortstop who is the youngest player in camp, broke a 4-4 tie with a two-run single in the eighth inning.
Low: Dakota Hudson worked four scoreless innings but still struggled with his control, going to seven three-ball counts against 15 hitters.
At the plate: The only player in the starting lineup who is projected to be starting in the regular-season opener was catcher Willson Contreras, who had one hit in two at-bats … Andrew Knizner served as the DH and was 1-of-4, the hit driving in a run … Minor-league outfielder Scott Hurst was 3-of-4 with an RBI and also stole a base … Masyn Winn started at second base and had a single in four at-bats.
On the mound: Hudson allowed just two hits but walked three while striking out two. Only 35 of his 64 pitches were strikes … Ryan Helsley allowed an infield single and struck out three in his inning of work … Jordan Hicks was charged with three runs, two of them unearned, and walked two in retiring two of the six hitters he faced … Chris Stratton gave up a run before Drew VerHagen earned the save with a scoreless ninth, striking out two.
Worth noting: Albert Pujols was a pre-game visitor to camp, meeting with Marmol … The game was played without a pitch clock or any of the other new rules MLB is instituting this season because they are not being used in the WBC … Nolan Arenado hit a grand slam for Team USA on Thursday in an exhibition game against the Angels in Arizona … Marmol did not have an update on outfielder Alec Burleson, who has missed the last two games because of a sore ankle.
Up next: The Cardinals will play their only night game of the spring on Friday night, at 5:05 p.m. St. Louis time. Jordan Montgomery will get the start against the Mets in Jupiter.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains