Postcard from Cardinals spring training camp for Tuesday, March 21, 2023
Weather: 74 degrees, sunny
Result: Cardinals 4, Nationals 4 (tie)
By Rob Rains
JUPITER, Fla. – The Cardinals have had a lot of success in recent years in signing pitchers out of Japan and South Korea. Andrew Suarez might be the next name on that list.
Suarez signed a minor-league contract with an invitation to the major-league camp on Jan. 30 after pitching in Korea in 2021 and in Japan last season, where he battled oblique and groin injuries.
The left-handed reliever camp to camp hoping to compete for a spot in the bullpen, and he could not have had a much better spring.
Suarez worked 1 1/3 scoreless innings on Tuesday and has not allowed a run in eight innings this spring, covering eight appearances.
“I’ve just been throwing strikes, and hopefully I can keep that momentum going,” said Suarez, who pitched in a combined 56 games the Giants from 2018-2020. “I’ve been feeling great all spring.
“I just wanted to come here healthy but I will take the results for sure.”
Suarez said he was aware of the success pitchers coming back from the Far East have had with the Cardinals and that it did play a role in his decision of where to sign.
“I’ve noticed it a lot, even when I was in the States playing,” Suarez said. “I think it’s a great organization to be in and once my agent told me they had interest, hands down come over here. They are really good at development.”
Manager Oli Marmol said Suarez came to camp with what was described to him as “a fastball that was sneaky” and that’s what he has seen this spring.
“He’s got some really bad swings, on the fastball, on the breaking ball,” Marmol said. “Some really defensive odd swings today. He’s done his part for sure.”
Suarez is among a group of lefthanders competing for what will likely be two spots in the bullpen to begin the regular season.
“We’ll continue to run him out there and make a final decision on who breaks with us, but he’s competed well,” Marmol said.
Here is how Tuesday’s game broke down:
High: The Cardinals rallied from a 4-0 deficit to tie the game in the eighth inning, scoring the four runs on just two hits, thanks to three Washington errors and two walks.
Low: Packy Naughton, also part of the left-handed reliever competition, allowed a single and home run to the first two hitters he faced.
At the plate: The only player projected to be part of the opening-day lineup who started the game was Tommy Edman, who was hitless in three at-bats … The Cardinals were shut out on just four hits before the eighth-inning rally.
On the mound: Jack Flaherty threw 90 pitches before coming out of the game after 4 2/3 innings. He gave up nine hits and one walk but was able to pitch around most of the traffic, allowing just two runs … Naughton gave up four hits while recording only two outs … Zack Thompson, also in the left-handed reliever battle, put up another scoreless inning and has not allowed a run in 9 1/3 innings this spring.
Worth noting: Tyler O’Neill, who has yet to play in a game since returning from the World Baseball Classic, went through the full pre-game practice on Tuesday and barring any setbacks could be in the lineup on Wednesday, Marmol said … As soon as the remaining players return from the WBC, the Cardinals will begin making their final roster cuts. Pitchers Dakota Hudson and Matthew Liberatore were optioned to Memphis on Tuesday, leaving 41 players in camp. Marmol said he expects to have the opening day roster set by Sunday night, when the team will head across the state to play their final game of the spring on Monday against the Orioles in Sarasota, then continue on to St. Louis.
Up next: Jordan Montgomery will get the start on Wednesday when the Cardinals play the Marlins in Jupiter. They will be the visiting team.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains