Postcard from Cardinals spring training camp for Saturday, March 18, 2023
Weather: 84 degrees, sunny
Result: Cardinals 8, Tigers 4
By Rob Rains
JUPITER, Fla. – Taylor Motter and Alec Burleson are trying to force manager Oli Marmol and the Cardinals into making some hard decisions about who will earn the final spots on the opening day roster.
Both had good days again on Saturday as Motter hit two home runs and Burleson went 2-of-4, including a double, and drove in two runs in the win over the Tigers.
Marmol estimated before the game that there are likely eight players who will deserve a spot on the 26-man roster, including pitchers and position players, but who will be on the outside looking in after the final decisions.
Marmol and Burleson are clearly trying to force their way onto the roster instead of being among the group that is left out.
“Motter has a very interesting skill set,” Marmol said of the player signed as a minor-league free agent and invited to camp as a non-roster player. “Defensively his internal clock is really good. He’s got good hands. His instincts are pretty good – and he can swing it.
“He came to camp to take somebody’s job, which I’ve enjoyed watching … He came here on a mission. It’s been good to see.”
Motter, who played third base on Saturday, hit a two-run homer in the second and then homered again in the fifth. Burleson had an RBI single in the second and then doubled in a run in the seventh.
“Really nice job,” Marmol said. “Those are the swings I’ve been seeing regardless of result. He got rewarded today but I do really feel like he’s been squaring the ball up.”
Here is how Saturday’s game broke down:
High: Motter’s two home runs increased his spring total to three, tied for the second most on the team.
Low: Wilking Rodriguez, the Rule 5 selection, retired only one of the six hitters he faced, giving up three runs.
At the plate: It also was a good day for Dylan Carlson, who had a hard-hit single batting lefthanded and then hit a two-run homer from the right side of the plate … Willson Contreras had two hits for the second day in a row and Masyn Winn also had another 2-of-4 day.
On the mound: Matthew Liberatore allowed one run, on a home run, over five innings. He walked one and struck out six, throwing 49 of his 65 pitches for strikes. “That’s the best I’ve ever seen him, not even close,” Marmol said. “It was fun to watch. Now the ability to repeat that will be important.” … Genesis Cabrera worked a scoreless inning in his return from the World Baserball Classic … Ryan Loutos inherited runners on first and third with one out from Rodriguez and got out of the inning with a caught stealing, on a double steal, and a ground out.
Worth noting: Tommy Edman returned to the lineup and had a single in three at-bats. He also committed a throwing error and was called for a pitch-clock violation, a rule he didn’t have to worry about while playing in the WBC … With Edman back, the Cardinals returned non-roster shortstop Jeremy Rivas to the minor-league camp. They have 46 players left in camp, including those still playing in the WBC.
Up next: The Cardinals will play the Mets on Sunday in Port St. Lucie. Dakota Hudson will get the start.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains