The opening day festivities are in the past (though there’s obviously another batch of them coming on Monday) and the season now is starting to get into a rhythm. It takes a while–the Cards continue to bounce between day games and night games, with the back to back evening affairs in Pittsburgh on Friday and Saturday the only ones the Cards seen until after the homestand–but we finally get to start looking at today’s game and thinking about the matchups without a lot of extra poetry and dramatics. Opening Day is great, but baseball is the other six months of the year as well.
Given that the Cards have only played twice since last Wednesday, it’s not terribly surprising that Mike Matheny plans to keep running out the regulars. It would be news if he DIDN’T do that after just one game. Yes, obviously you’ve got to get the bench guys some at bats and keep them fresh, but after one game? I don’t think so. Come this weekend, sure. Maybe with the day game after a night game tomorrow, although that’s probably stretching it as well. But surely even if it’d been a fairly full last week of spring training, we’d not be seeing Pete Kozma in Game 2?
Derrick Goold had his weekly chat yesterday and, as always, plenty of good stuff in there. It sounds like Mark Ellis is perhaps 50/50 to come off the DL when he’s eligible, as he’s battling some tendinitis. Hopefully he’ll be able to get that cleared up, though better to wait a little while now than to have to go through this all again in a couple of weeks.
Goold also points out what we’ve talked about a lot, the fact that Peter Bourjos is the centerfielder and Jon Jay is the backup. It’s not a split, it’s not a platoon, it’s Bourjos, then Jay. Like Goold says, if Jay didn’t start against Cueto with his great career numbers against the Reds hurler, he’s not going to see just a whole lot of starts. Will he start more often than a regular backup? Probably. But it’s still going to be significantly less than how often Bourjos will.
Other than that, it was a pretty quiet off day for the club. Now they get back on the horse and it gives us the first chance to look at Michael Wacha in 2014.
It’s a really small sample size–basically two games around Labor Day last year, one in long relief of Adam Wainwright–but the Reds haven’t really figured him out yet. Only one extra base hit out of the five knocks against him. However, the Reds are one of the few teams that have seen Wacha more than once in his short career. Will they have made adjustments? Will his experience now help blunt those adjustments? It’ll be tough for him to top Waino’s outing, but he could put one up that is in the same neighborhood.
Tony Cingrani goes for the Reds and, in past years, the fact that he’s a left-hander would have sent fans running for the hills. After all, many times all a lefty had to do was show up at the ballpark and the offense would go cold. That said, the addition of Jhonny Peralta from the right side should help battle that tendency a bit and I’ve got high hopes that Matt Adams‘s winter work in that department will pay off as well. Let’s look at the numbers, though.
The Cardinals haven’t seen much of Cingrani either and, as expected, they’ve not done much with him when they have seen him. It’s a little surprising to see that Yadier Molina hasn’t faced him yet. It looks like Cingrani saw the Cards twice last year, the first of which Yadi was out on the disabled list, the second was one of his rare days off.
No matter what, tonight’s a good night because baseball is back and at a time when most folks can actually watch it without having to try to pretend to work. It’s been a long time since the Cards have played under the lights and I, for one, am looking forward to it!