We’re continuing our year-long look back at the 2011 World Series championship season by reprinting the posts that happened five years ago. Here we take a look at the first day with a baseball game against another team for the season.
Actual Cardinal Baseball
It’s what we’ve been waiting for since the end of last season–real, actual baseball games. Sure, they don’t count in the standings and the big guys won’t get many at bats, but it’s the Cardinals versus another team and that’s gotta mean something.
And while the big guys won’t get many at bats, they will be in there. Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday, Lance Berkman, Ryan Theriot, they are all in the initial lineup of the spring. We’ll see Allen Craig at third as the team goes easy with David Freese in the early going, but this lineup has an Opening Day feel to it.
The focus this weekend seems to have been on Berkman, who apparently has a bit of a balky elbow. The team isn’t having him do much in the way of extra throwing right now, just the bare minimum, but he did play in the outfield during the coach’s game yesterday and is in there today. He’s probably not going to let it loose to try to get a runner out at the plate, but it doesn’t sound too bad. That is, assuming that the new, more open policy for injuries is still in place. What worries me a bit is that he had these problems with it when he was stretching in the winter. I’m afraid that’s going to come back and bite the team this spring, but hopefully it is as minor as everyone seems to indicate it is.
As noted, there was an intrasquad game yesterday, as the regular lineup took on the reserves and got beat 8-5. Or something like that. Coach games are notorious for not exactly sticking to the rules and I figure that scoring a game like that is a little difficult as well. Still, nice to see Jon Jay do well and it really was intriguing to see Zach Cox starring in the game as well. He’s not going to make the team, of course, but any positive impression he makes keeps him in mind if he starts strong in the minors and something happens that the team needs a replacement at third later in the season. Cox is on the 40-man due to receiving a major league contract and that could be a point in his favor. A strong spring and a strong minor league campaign could do wonders for him.
Obviously, the news about Adam Wainwright continues to reverberate around the team, though many have put it behind and are focusing on the season to come. This weekend, though, Wainwright made his first statement about the situation. He didn’t make it to the media, though, but instead wrote about it on the E-Fellowship blog run by himself as well as other players. Read it through to see why he’s not worried about the surgery and not down because he has to have it. Then ask yourself–where does YOUR identity lie?
There was a glimpse of the future this weekend as well, or at least Cardinal management hopes so. Carlos Martinez had his first bullpen session, something John Mozeliak compared to the anticipation around Christmas. Matthew Leach got some video and it does look like Martinez has a live arm, though had a few control problems yesterday. Obviously we won’t be seeing Martinez until next September at the earliest, probably more like 2013, but he’ll be someone to watch this year in the minors. I think Future Redbirds is going to be an active place this year!
Couple of things from Post-Dispatch Bernie Miklasz today. First off, he lists out five reasons that the Cards aren’t folding, that they can keep their heads up. All well and good, of course, and they are solid reasons. But just five? I do think he’s right, that Tony La Russa does a great job of motivating a team when he can use the underdog approach.
He also is of the opinion that the Cards really should be looking into Kevin Millwood, assuming the costs of acquiring him aren’t too high. Millwood would likely be able to eat innings and do so in a respectable manner. (I’ve always thought innings-eater was a terrible term. I mean, sure, having a guy that can give you six or seven is great, but what if they are really terrible innings? Do you want him out there that long?) Millwood’s always done well in the NL and should get a boost in returning to the league. I know the Cards want to go internal and odds are they probably will, but I bet they have at least made a courtesy call to Millwood’s agent.
To tie the end of the entry to the top, today the Cards face off against their stadium-mates the Florida Marlins in the first Feathers and Fins game of the spring. One pitcher that is scheduled to go is Fernando Salas, and I’m interested to see how he does this season. He’s not been talked about much during the winter, but he did a very good job bouncing between Memphis and St. Louis last year. I’d like to see him stick in the bigs this year and today’s the first step toward doing that.
Supposedly you can follow the game on line at MLB.com. It’s tough to know what you’ll get with a spring training game, but it can’t hurt to check it out right after noon Central time. Great to have some baseball back, isn’t it?