Postcard from Cardinals spring training camp for Tuesday, March 14, 2023
Weather: 77 degrees, cloudy
Result: Cardinals 3, Astros 3 (tie)
By Rob Rains
JUPITER, Fla. – One of the challenges in evaluating relief pitchers in spring training is that by the time they come into the game, most of the opponent’s starting lineup already has come out of the game.
The Cardinals made certain that didn’t happen on Tuesday by sending four lefthanded relievers to the mound to each throw an inning before the “starter,” Jake Woodford, was supposed to pitch the final five innings against the Astros in West Palm Beach.
Zack Thompson, who has not allowed a run in six innings this spring, pitched the opening inning, facing Alex Bregman and Jose Abreu, and allowed only one walk while also recording a strikeout.
He was followed by Packy Naughton, Andrew Suarez and Anthony Misiewicz – and the quartet did not allow a hit over their four innings. Suarez, signed as a minor-league free agent, has not allowed a run in 4 1/3 innings this spring.
Manager Oli Marmol said that while performance in the spring games is an important part of the decision about which relievers will make the opening day roster, the team also will factor in past performance.
“You don’t want to get fooled by a couple of outs in spring training,” he said.
Marmol’s evaluation of the lefthanded candidates also has to include a pitcher who isn’t even in his camp, Genesis Cabrera, who is on the Dominican Republic roster for the World Baseball Classic but has yet to appear in a game. He pitched three innings for the Cardinals before leaving camp.
Here is how Tuesday’s game broke down:
High: Nolan Gorman drove in all three of the Cardinals’ runs with a two-run single in the third and another RBI single in the sixth.
Low: The Cardinals had just two other hits in addition to the two singles by Gorman.
At the plate: Gorman now has eight RBIs in 11 games, tied with Juan Yepez behind team-leader Brendan Donovan’s 10 RBIs … The other hits by the Cardinals were singles by Jordan Walker and Andrew Knizner, just his second hit of the spring. Knizner also drew a pair of walks while Walker stole his second base … Walker struck out twice in a game for the first time this spring.
On the mound: Woodford failed to get through the second inning of his scheduled five innings, allowing three runs and getting two outs, both on sacrifice flies, in his second inning of work … He was able to go back into the game to get in two more innings of work before Kyle Leahy pitched the ninth.
Worth noting: Righthander Freddy Pacheco was claimed off waivers by the Tigers. Pacheco had not pitched in a game this spring because of a sore elbow, and the Cardinals hoped that would keep another team from claiming him so they could open a spot on their 40-man roster … Paul DeJong was a late scratch from the starting lineup because of lower back tightness, a move the team said was “precautionary.” … With South Korea eliminated from the World Baseball Classic, Tommy Edman is expected back in camp in the next few days … Dakota Hudson pitched five innings in a game on a backfield in Jupiter while the Cardinals were in West Palm Beach.
Up next: The Cardinals play the Mets on Wednesday in Port St. Lucie for the first time this spring. Connor Thomas is the scheduled starter.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains