With the major leaguers all back from their day off on Tuesday, the St. Louis Cardinals prepared to take on the Washington Nationals. In the morning, we were told that St. Louisan Max Scherzer would be starting for the Nats over previously-announced pitcher Gio Gonzalez. Scherzer has already been anointed their opening day starter.
Words from Matheny
The manager expects to have more set lineups once the team gets past its Lakeland trip on Saturday. It was not spoken, but it also seems like more roster cuts will be coming then. The club still has 38 players in big league camp.
Matheny noted that Jon Jay and Kolten Wong at the bottom of the lineup makes it so opponents cannot “catch their breath”. Matheny joked that he is a “road warrior,” meaning he will travel with the team.
Speaking of travel, Carlos Martinez will start Friday's split-squad game in Viera against the Nationals. John Lackey will draw the Mets in Jupiter. Marco Gonzales will piggyback Lance Lynn on Saturday. Based on his Tuesday admission that recent piggybacks “came up short” in terms of pitches made by the second starter compared to their plan, I asked Matheny if Marco would get in his full number of pitches on Friday. If not, the manager said Gonzales would finish his workload in the bullpen.
Injury report – Tommy Pham
Though Tommy Pham appeared to be running at full speed in the outfield during workouts, the manager said they still have “reservations” about him playing. He was said to be “close,” however. Matheny acknowledged the injury was “bad timing” for Pham’s chances of making the team, but if he is ready, he will “get back in there”.
Injury report – Cory Jones
The right-hander was injured early last season but tried to pitch through it at Palm Beach. Jones eventually had July Tommy John surgery and now is throwing at 120 feet. He expects to get back into action in June when the Gulf Coast League opens as a prerequisite to getting back to the Florida State League. Jones says he already feels better than ever before.
Injury report – Keith Butler
Memphis’ former closer is making good progress in his own Tommy John recovery with the next step to pitch in a simulated game next week. Butler hopes to be ready to open the season with Palm Beach to ramp up for a return to Triple-A in another month.
Injury report – Lee Stoppelman
The tall left-hander recently experienced shoulder discomfort so is among the official rehabbers. He has been backed off throwing for a while with timing of resuming unclear. I was left with the impression the injury is not serious, though.
Minor league starting lineups and pitching plans for Wednesday
The minor leaguers continued their game action on Wednesday with a camp day. As is the custom, there were two 1:00 p.m. games with Memphis versus Springfield and Palm Beach taking on Peoria.
Pitching plans follow with starting lineups. Interestingly, from the preliminary schedule to today, the planned higher level pitchers were moved to the lower level team and vice-versa. This has been done in the past to ensure the level of the hitters and pitchers are as well-matched as possible.
It is also another of many reasons to not obsess over minor league team spring training records. Rosters are a constantly-moving target.
|J Rodriguez||3||L Cruz||2||Radack||7||Grayson||3|
|S Rodriguez||EH||C Valera||6||Collymore||4||Lankford||4|
Thoughts from the lineups above
Memphis: Hot-hitting David Washington is in right field. If that works, there could be a fit in Springfield, after all. Alex Mejia playing at second base is not earth-shattering, but it could open up some opportunities for the shortstop.
Springfield: Mason Katz is starting at second base today. He has also played third this spring and has proficiency at first base. It appears that catching will not be his primary vocation, as I had suspected already. Katz told me that he expects to play all over this season. Andrew Sohn, injured most of last season, is playing third base, rather than his regular shortstop position.
Velocities and offerings from some of Wednesday’s pitchers follow.
|Mayers||91-94 T95||Cb 83-84||Wick 2-run HR against|
|Flaherty||89-91||Cb 73-75||Showed four pitches|
|Ar Reyes||86-92||Sldr 82-84||Voit doubled against him|
|Gast||84-89||Still not all the way back|
|Brookshire||90||Cutter 84||Voit/Radack w/RBI singles|
|Wyatt||86-87||Gave up at least one run|
|McKinney||90-91||Stranded F Rodriguez double|
|Tuivailala||95-96 T97||Cb 82|
My miscellaneous musings
The games ended with Memphis and Springfield tied at four each, while Palm Beach defeated Peoria 5-2.
C.J. McElroy continues to switch hit and executed a perfect bunt on Wednesday. He later stole a base as well. In other words, he is playing his game.
Camp’s biggest surprise to me to date is watching Daniel Poncedeleon (pictured at top) light up the radar gun. Last season at State College, the right-hander was not hitting anywhere near the 95-96 mph mark, as he did consistently today. Still, hitters can catch up, as at least one run scored against our 34th-ranked Cardinals prospect.
Playing second base for Memphis, Alex Mejia pulled off the top defensive gem with a diving stop. I missed the play, but the cheering from his teammates drew my attention.
The largest crowd of the day on the backfields (see below) joined together to watch Sam Tuivailala. There were good natured bets being made on his velocity. He followed by throwing 95-96 - during his warmup! - and fanned his final batter on a 97 mph fastball. Tuivailala showed a cutter and a curve, but needs to throw more consistent strikes with his off-speed offerings or MLB hitters will tee off on his fastball. I am pretty sure he knows that already!
Much more to come from Jupiter, Florida this week.
What is next
Remember to check The Cardinal Nation Blog each evening during spring training for the day's minor league stat highlights and notes and the Roster Matrix. The matrix has every transaction listed along with all players in the system by level and position, including the Cardinals entire 40-man roster and non-roster spring training invitees, STEP campers and more.
Prior articles in this series
© 2015 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com and stlcardinals.scout.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.