Postcard from Cardinals spring training camp for Thursday, March 23, 2023
Weather: 80 degrees, sunny
Result: Cardinals 1, Mets 1 (tie)
By Rob Rains
JUPITER, Fla. – Walking back into the Cardinals’ clubhouse Thursday morning, Lars Nootbaar said, was kind of like showing up for the first day of school after summer vacation.
There were hugs from friends he hadn’t seen for a while. There were tasks he needed to complete, like taking an MLB drug test. The one thing he didn’t need to do was tell anybody what he had been doing the last three weeks.
“Just a different environment, different feel coming into the clubhouse,” Nootbaar said. “Unlike the World Series you wake up, pack up your stuff and drive back to spring training.”
Nootbaar became an international sensation in helping Japan win the World Baseball Classic but after getting the chance to enjoy that victory for a day, he was ready to get back to work on Thursday. He and Team USA first baseman Paul Goldschmidt found themselves in the lineup for the game against the Yankees.
Nootbaar grounded out and walked in his two plate appearances and scored the Cardinals’ only run in the tie against the Yankees.
One thing Nootbaar won’t be doing is gloating about Japan’s victory over the US team and Cardinals’ teammates Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado, whose lockers fill up one corner of the clubhouse, next to Nootbaar’s locker.
“Winning was great, and beating them will be great, but those two guys specifically in this clubhouse have helped me out so much in my career,” Noobaar said. “I always want success for those guys, so it was a little weird situation. I would rather have beaten them in the semi’s and somebody else in the finals.”
Nootbaar did not have to face either Adam Wainwright or Miles Mikolas, like Shohei Ohtani did Angels’ teammate Mike Trout to end the championship game.
“Trust me I wouldn’t have cared about their feelings if I was facing them in the box,” Nootbaar said. “I am looking forward to being back here, training a little bit more and get ready for the season.
“The two guys I was playing against (Arenado and Goldschmidt) have their gold medals from the WBC (in 2017) and they have accomplished a lot more in the game than I have. It’s great, but then you come back to reality. I’m the same guy who is looking up asking for advice from those guys, wanting to be more like those guys.
“If I was going to bask in anything that just happened I would be a fool. This clubhouse does a good job of humbling you.”
Here is how Thursday’s game broke down:
High: Tommy Edman drove in the Cardinals’ only run with a single in the fifth inning.
Low: The Cardinals were held to just three singles in tying their third consecutive game, something that hasn’t happened in their spring training history dating back at least 30 years, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
At the plate: The other hits were a first-inning single by Tyler O’Neill and a single in the fourth by Willson Contreras … Goldschmidt struck out in both of his at-bats before coming out of the game … Edman’s RBI single came with two outs, following Nootbaar’s walk and Masyn Winn being hit by a pitch … Jordan Walker suffered his third consecutive 0-of-4 game, dropping his spring average below .300, to .295.
On the mound: Steven Matz allowed only three hits over six innings, one of which was a home run. He did not walk a batter and struck out five, finishing the spring with a 1.53 ERA … Genesis Cabrera needed just seven pitches to retire the Yankees in order in the seventh before Giovanny Gallegos and Andrew Suarez also pitched perfect innings.
Worth noting: In addition to announcing the injuries suffered by Adam Wainwright and Wilking Rodriguez, the Cardinals made another roster move, optioning left-handed reliever Anthony Misiewicz to Memphis. Including the pending move placing Paul DeJong on the injured list, the Cardinals have 37 players left in camp … Arenado also was back in camp on Thursday and is expected to be in the lineup on Friday night.
Up next: The Cardinals have five spring games remaining, beginning with a night game Friday against the Nationals in West Palm Beach. Mikolas is the scheduled starter.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains