Following the completion of STEP Camp, those two dozen early arrivals will be joined by the full complement of minor leaguers. Pitchers and catchers will report on Monday, March 3, with their first workout the next day. Position players will join them on Wednesday, March 5 and will take the fields on the 6th.
For the fourth consecutive year, the Cardinals will be running the early camp for selected minor league players. That group will arrive on Friday, February 21 with their first workout the next day.
Other minor leaguers may join this group later. The Major League club has announced its slate of 18 non-roster invitees to big-league camp. With a major league roster that is pretty much set, most, if not all of the NRIs will not make St. Louis out of spring training.
The Jupiter complex offers great opportunities to get up close and personal with prospects. Most March mornings, players will be working out in preparation for 1:00 P.M. games that begin on Thursday, March 13 and run through Sunday, March 30.
The players will work out together for seven days before their first external games on March 13. As it always seems, they will be against their Jupiter cohabitants, the Miami Marlins. Camp will break on Monday, March 31, in preparation for the opening of the minor league regular seasons on Thursday, April 3.
As usual, the farmhands of the Cardinals and Marlins face off frequently, six times. The good news is that the "road" trips are only to the Marlins' side of the RDS minor league fields. If past years are any indication, the Cardinals will also field a second Peoria team against the Marlins, with five games scheduled those days – assuming both sides have ample pitching in need of work.
While Houston and Toronto are trying to build a new complex in the area, currently the Mets are the only other MLB organization remaining nearby, in Port St. Lucie, 33 miles from Jupiter. The Mets make up the remainder of the Cardinals schedule, with five days' worth of contests.
As has been customary in recent years, the Mets dates are split – as the Cards' Triple-A (Memphis) and Double-A (Springfield) teams play in one location while the Single-A squads (Palm Beach and Peoria) compete on the other organization's fields. That means only half of each system's players have to take the requisite bus ride to the other's fields on those six dates.
Because of the odd total number of teams in the area, the Cardinals will have a camp day roughly every third day. That would be when the Mets and Marlins meet. Typically on those camp days, the Cardinals' Triple-A and Double-A squads will face off as will their Single-A clubs.
The best news that the limited competition provides is for fans. Not a single day will pass during spring camp – even camp days - in which baseball is not played on the back diamonds of Roger Dean – weather permitting, of course. The biggest inconvenience is that three times, observers will have to walk to the Marlins' fields instead of the Cardinals'.
With the respective home plates on the RDS back quad, named in honor of the departed great George Kissell, arranged in close proximity to each other like in a softball complex, fans can easily move among the various games by taking just a handful of steps.
While games typically start at 1 p.m. each day as noted above, impending weather can lead to last-minute changes. For example, if afternoon rain appears likely, morning workouts may be truncated with games moved up to 10 a.m. It is always best to check when you arrive.
You never know who you'll see while there, and best of all, attendance is free! So, if you're interested in the Cardinals minor leaguers, make sure you catch the action this spring in Florida. You'll be glad you did!
2014 Cardinals minor league spring training game schedule
(All Cardinals home games start on or about 1:00 p.m. Eastern)
|Date||Memphis||Springfield||Palm Beach||Peoria||Peoria 2|
|13 Mar||@ Marlins||@ Marlins||@ Marlins||@ Marlins||@ Marlins|
|14 Mar||Camp Day||Camp Day||Camp Day||Camp Day|
|15 Mar||vs Marlins||vs Marlins||vs Marlins||vs Marlins||vs Marlins|
|16 Mar||vs Mets||vs Mets||@ Mets||@ Mets|
|17 Mar||Camp Day||Camp Day||Camp Day||Camp Day|
|18 Mar||@ Mets||@ Mets||vs Mets||vs Mets|
|19 Mar||@ Marlins||@ Marlins||@ Marlins||@ Marlins||@ Marlins|
|20 Mar||Camp Day||Camp Day||Camp Day||Camp Day|
|21 Mar||vs Mets||vs Mets||@ Mets||@ Mets|
|22 Mar||Camp Day||Camp Day||Camp Day||Camp Day|
|23 Mar||vs Marlins||vs Marlins||vs Marlins||vs Marlins||vs Marlins|
|24 Mar||@ Mets||@ Mets||vs Mets||vs Mets|
|25 Mar||@ Marlins||@ Marlins||@ Marlins||@ Marlins||@ Marlins|
|26 Mar||Camp Day||Camp Day||Camp Day||Camp Day|
|27 Mar||vs Mets||vs Mets||@ Mets||@ Mets|
|28 Mar||Camp Day||Camp Day||Camp Day||Camp Day|
|29 Mar||vs Marlins||vs Marlins||vs Marlins||vs Marlins||vs Marlins|
|30 Mar||Camp Day||Camp Day||Camp Day||Camp Day|
|31 Mar||Break camp||Break camp||Break camp||Break camp|
|3-Apr||Reg season||Reg season||Reg season||Reg season|