By Kevin Reynolds, www.stlcardsnstuff.com
Winter Warm-Up is only hours old, but already multiple players have made a point to praise Cardinals’ right-hander Shelby Miller and his performance in 2013.
The latest, Adam Wainwright, took several opportunities to either expand on a Miller question or redirect the topic entirely to talk about the much-discussed pitcher. At one point, when asked about youngster Michael Wacha’s performance, Wainwright said, “I’m more impressed with what Shelby Miller did for us all season.”
After discussing Miller’s accomplishments a bit more, he then returned to Wacha. “Saying that, I think Michael might be one of the most talented pitchers I’ve ever seen.”
And then the discussion continued…and Adam returned to the topic of Shelby Miller again and again.
Of course, fans might remember the pseudo-controversy surrounding Miller’s non-use in the World Series and rare use during the rest of the postseason. Pundits and fans had a field day with the topic, suggesting manager Mike Matheny must have a motive or agenda beyond simply the “he hasn’t been pitching” mantra. The Cardinals’, however, held to their story that Miller was simply tired at the end of the season and then fell victim to the unfortunate scenario created by not pitching for an extended period of time.
It was the old adage, to pitch, he needs innings — but to get innings, he needs to pitch.
The entire discussion left many wondering if Miller’s confidence took a hit, if the club was suddenly open to trading their young hurler, or if both, somehow, could be true. The Cardinals’ continue to insist Miller is not targeted for any trades — but they may be a bit concerned about his confidence.
Whether the sudden and obvious Shelby Miller love displayed at Winter Warm-Up is by club directive — an attempt to send a message of support and confidence via media outlets — or simply a player’s attempt to get a young pitcher his due, the effort is noticeable.