Our look at 2011 continues with a recap of the first split squad games of that spring. Man, was I really talking glowingly about Zack Cox? And it’s good to know that the more things change, the more “resting Molina” means exactly the same thing.
One Day, Two Results
One of those interesting quirks of spring is the split squad games. With so many players in camp, it’s a great tool to be able to get more at bats for hitters and innings for pitchers. Of course, that also means that, like yesterday, you can win and lose in the same day.
The game that got the most attention, at least from me because it was on KMOX and I was listening through the MLB At Bat app, was the home game against Washington. With Lance Berkman being held out for precautionary measures, Zack Cox got the chance to play a little, and he took advantage.
Cox had a double and a single, plus was heady enough to advance on a wild pitch that, from what it sounds like, didn’t get that far from the catcher and made a nice slide at home to score the tying run on a groundout. I’m personally rooting for Zack because he’s a Razorback alumni like myself and I want to see him succeed. Days like this will get the team’s attention. He’s not coming up this year, but since he’s on a major league contract already, a good 2011 would put him in the mix for 2012. Even if David Freese is perfectly acceptable at first, they may consider moving him to second base to get him in the lineup.
Berkman said he was “perfectly fine to play,” but the training staff decided to be cautious with him and hold him out not only of yesterday’s game, but of today’s trip to his old Astros stomping grounds. The longer he doesn’t play, the more concern there is in Cardinal Nation about how this guy will hold up during the season. I can understand not pushing at all during the spring, but he’s going to have to get into that regular playing rhythm sometime before the season starts. Hopefully after he gets back into the lineup (tomorrow? Monday?) he’ll stay there.
Brandon Dickson impressed Dave Duncan with his outing against the Nats yesterday. That’s not terribly surprising since Dickson would fit the Duncan mold, getting ground balls and working quickly. His line might not have been as dominant as Lance Lynn‘s was a few days ago, but he didn’t do anything to take him out of the competition for the fifth slot either. You have to figure Duncan’s word is going to carry a lot of weight in this battle, so if you can stay on his good side, as it were, it’s going to help.
Yadier Molina caught nine innings in an early spring training game. For a team that is continually saying that they are going to rest Yadi more and limit his playing time, they definitely have a strange way of going about it. I know that Yadi wanted to stay in and catch everyone so he could be familiar with each pitcher in camp, and I can’t argue with that rationale too much, but you’d think there’d be better times and ways. Only good thing is that it’s early in the spring, so he should be fully rested. It wasn’t even Tony La Russa managing that team yesterday (he went up with the road team to the Mets), so it’s doubly surprising. Maybe Yadi knows how to talk the coaches into things!
Ian Snell‘s line: two innings, four hits, two earned runs. If anyone really thought he was a serious contender for the last slot (looking at the national media here, mainly), it’s pretty clear that he’s the longest of longshots, especially with all the other options in camp. I guess he could turn it around and have a strong spring, but this first outing reaffirmed what a lot of us expected when he was signed.
There wasn’t much going on in the other game, as the Mets took that one 3-0. Jaime Garcia admitted that he was a little extra excited with it being his first outing and it showed, as he wasn’t sharp and was more erratic than usual. Still he only allowed one unearned run in his two innings.
PJ Walters bore the brunt of the Mets offense, allowing two runs in 2.2 innings. He walked four and allowed three hits while he was out there, which isn’t what the club wants to see. Of course, he’s on the fringe of the starter race as well as having a shot at the bullpen, but he may find himself in Memphis if he has many more of those outings.
Tyler Greene needs to relax and “let his talent out,” according to today’s story in the Post-Dispatch. Greene went 0-2 yesterday, but has started off the spring pretty well. He’s fairly assured of a bench role, in my mind, and I think it’s completely possible (even though, with TLR, perhaps not likely) that he could take over for Skip Schumaker on a regular basis by the end of the year. It’s hard to believe that he was going to be taken in the slot the Cards took Colby Rasmus, since Rasmus is starting his third year in the bigs. It’ll be fun to see if Greene can really tap into what the club thinks he can do.
Another nice day for Allen Craig, getting two of the six hits the team had. Starting to get excited about seeing him on a more regular basis this year.
The Cards head up to Houston today, but most of the stars aren’t going. Colby doesn’t have the seniority yet to get out of those trips and the starting middle infield is going as well. Craig hits cleanup in this bare bones lineup, which gives him yet another chance to shine. Houston is covering this on the radio, so if you have the MLB app you can hear the game that way.
Last reminder, going to keep the Cardinal Approval Ratings voting going through the weekend, then start announcing results next week. If you’ve not voted, do so!