And We’re Off….In All Sorts of Ways

When there is just one piece of data, that piece is everything.  It has to support all the weight of analysis, it’s all that anyone has to discuss, it’s the complete set of knowledge.  When a batter goes 0-4 on Opening Day, that one game is the entirety of what we can discuss and as such takes on import.  Same with a first start–everyone remembers, I imagine, the firestorm that surrounded Miles Mikolas‘s first couple of competitive innings last year in Jupiter.  Once more data comes in, more games are played, more innings are logged, that initial impact is often lessened, diffused, or shown to be false.  Until then, though, things can gain import that maybe they shouldn’t have.

Which brings us to yesterday.  The above video of Marcell Ozuna doing a bit of throwing caught most people’s attention.  After all, Ozuna’s shoulder has been a topic for quite some time and most certainly one of the things we’ve wondered about this offseason, especially after John Mozeliak’s comments at Winter Warmup about not being sure where he was on the rehab path.  So to see Ozuna throwing awkwardly or without full extension made a lot of people worried.

They may well have a point.  There’s no doubt that the saga of Marcell Ozuna in a Cardinal uniform has been anything but smooth.  He was supposed to be healthier last year coming to spring training than he was and never really seemed to get over that hump, even though his overall offensive numbers weren’t terrible.  While Mozeliak seemed more comfortable with where Ozuna was physically when he saw him on his trip to the Dominican Republic after WWU, that’s only going to go so far with Cardinal fans.  Most fans would have liked to see Ozuna be able to fully unleash or at least look smoother than he did in that clip.

However, it’s one 35 second clip of some work days before the official check in for position players.  It wouldn’t be a surprise if Ozuna was easing into a more full-throated attempt at throwing the ball.  It wouldn’t be a surprise if there was some facet of his mechanics that he and Jose Oquendo were working on where the method meant more than the results.  Heck, Ozuna could have had numerous smoother, stronger throws that weren’t captured by cameras.  Without actually being there, we don’t really know.

We’ll just have to wait and see.  It’s very possible we won’t really know what Ozuna can do until late in spring training.  If he’s not throwing well at the beginning of games, that’s a bit concerning but if he’s not throwing well a couple of weeks later, then you really have a pickle.  It’s too soon to say that he’s doomed but I do think most fans would have liked a better first impression from Ozuna’s arm.

Otherwise, today is the official reporting day for pitchers and catchers.  Most everyone is already down there, of course, as we’ve seen from throwing session videos taken by the various media.  As Miles Mikolas told Benjamin Hochman, it’s like the first day of school when the players officially are on the clock.  I imagine Mike Shildt woke up this morning with a little bit more spring in his step and maybe a couple of butterflies, knowing that he was getting his first chance to direct these players.  The players get to report in a few days and, again, we’re less than two weeks from baseball being played on our television screens.

It was good to see pictures of Andrew Miller wearing Cardinal red and working out for the first time.  That’s someone that’s going to come under a lot of spring scrutiny, I think.  If he looks like he’s still hurting from last year, if he looks like age is getting to him, there’s going to be some that are ready to draw some conclusions that the Cards got burned again on a reliever contract.  Hopefully he’ll be solid from the get-go and we won’t have these discussions or he won’t have to fight back from a negative first impression, something Greg Holland never could do last year (mainly because he continued to be bad, but still…..)

Pitchers and catchers, folks.  It’s time for baseball.

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Last updated: 10/06/2022