Cards Extended Spring Camp Report: 5/9/15

Saturday news from St. Louis Cardinals extended spring training camp in Jupiter, Florida. Among the day’s newsmakers are Tommy Pham, Randal Grichuk, Barry Weinberg, Sandy Alcantara (again), Junior Fernandez and more!

On Saturday, there was more of the same weather-wise in Jupiter, Florida, with high, sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-to-upper 80s. As mentioned in Friday’s report, the abbreviated Saturday work schedule includes 10:00 a.m. games.

Though the original schedule had manager Chris Swauger’s White team in a camp day, the Marlins decided they have enough pitchers needing work to hold two games. The White contest will be on the Cardinals side with skipper Johnny Rodriguez’ Red game on Miami’s side of the complex.

As a result of the physical distance between the two games, my report on one contest will be much less thorough than usual.

Pham rehab update

I chatted Saturday morning with disabled Cardinals outfielder Tommy Pham. The answer to the question everyone wants to know is: early June. In other words, it will be another month until he can get back onto a baseball field.

Pham explained that it was thought during spring training that his quadriceps injury was a Grade 1 and he pushed through workouts expecting for a relatively quick heal. He now wishes he had “listened to his body,” but said he wanted to help the team, which was short of outfielders at the time.

It was later determined to be a Grade 2. Pham has what he described as a vertical tear, where most quad tears are horizontal. He said that while the vertical tear takes longer to heal, it is 95 percent less likely to recur.

Grichuk rehab update

Another Cardinals outfielder on the disabled list, Randal Grichuk, has reported to Jupiter. While he is doing all of his conditioning and cage work, he will not make his first extended spring training game appearance until Monday afternoon.

As of now, everything is going according to plan, Grichuk told me Saturday morning.

Pitching rehab update

Among the many pitchers throwing bullpens Saturday morning were Springfield’s Ryan Sherriff and Lee Stoppelman, Palm Beach’s Silfredo Garcia and Jack Flaherty from Peoria. I also spoke with Brandon Lee, who like Stoppelman is working his way back from shoulder soreness.

Though officials do not comment on readiness of the various individual rehabbers, the general feeling I get about the majority of those on the rehab list is that they are just a couple of weeks away from returning to their teams.

Sandy Alcantara revisited

Friday’s report of upper 90’s heat along with two good secondary pitchers drew attention to Sandy Alcantara, up from the Dominican Summer League.

It turns out that I should have stayed with his game into his second inning of work. While my report included his first-inning velocity at 98-99, Alcantara hit 102 mph in the next frame.

As you can imagine, it was still being discussed among the players on Saturday. In fact, when Junior Fernandez checked on his velo and was told he hit 99, one of the other pitchers joked to Alcantara that Fernandez was coming after him.

Take a look at the photo of Alcantara above. Notice how thin he is, especially his legs. Then imagine how he might pitch if he fills out.

Barry Weinberg update

I had a good chat with long-time Cardinals athletic trainer Barry Weinberg, who is now a consultant with the organization in Jupiter. In addition, he is writing his first book, recapping his years in the game – but get this – its unifying theme is food.

Barry says his book should be out next spring, but you can sign up for information now at

Before we get into game results, let’s review the lineups, pitchers and their velocities. What follows is an incomplete sample. As you can tell by looking at the pitching report, I started my day with the Red team, but after three innings, I shifted to the White game, where I remained.

Pitching Plans          
Red IP/#P Velo   White IP/#P Velo
Mateo 3/50 88-89   Santos 3/50 91-92 T94
    C/up 82       C/up 87
Perez       Fernandez 3/50 97-99
De La Cruz       Echemendia 1/20 88-91 T93
Llorens           Cb 76-79
Brito       Kuebel 1/20 91-92
Arias           C/up 82
        Booden 1/20  
        Velazco 1/20 89-90
        Bautista 1/20 87-88 T91
            C/up 78-79
Sides       Sides    
Farinaro       Oca    
Martinez       Gonzalez    
Beck       Parra    
Caballero       Wirsu    
Gerdel       S Garcia    
Batting orders            
Red       White    
Pritchard 7     Torres 8  
Turgeon 4     Alvarez 4  
Pina 6     Sosa 6  
Lopez 2     E Rodriguez 2  
Gronsky 3     J Rivera 9  
Lankford DH     Talavera 7  
O'Keefe EH     Ripoll 3  
Gibson 9     Franco DH  
Bryan 8     Ustariz EH  
Barzilli 5     Massi 5  

White notes

Manager Chris Swauger’s team prevailed in the 10-inning game by a 3-1 tally.

The Whites scored first after Jesus Ustariz singled, stole second and came home on a double by Carlos Torres that took a big hop over the third baseman’s head.

Coming back from injury, Juan Bautista touching 91 seemed to please coaches.

Earlier in this report, I briefly mentioned Junior Fernandez (pictured above), but I need to come back to him. His first inning was just six pitches, all at 97 or above. It was about as dominating as I have seen a minor league pitcher in a short stretch. The next frame, however, he dialed down to 91-92 and threw more breaking pitches, resulting in a 27-pitch inning.

In Fernandez’ third and final inning, he drilled a Marlins hitter named Castro in the lower leg with a 92 mph offering. The batter writhed on the ground in pain before limping off the field. That runner came around to score on a pitch in the dirt that caused the batter to swing and miss as the ball scooted to the screen. That tied the game at 1-1 with two out.

Fernandez turned his fastball back up to 97 to strike out his final batter. It wasn’t a perfect day, but it is very clear that this is a player to watch.

Third baseman Michael Massi made my defensive play of the day, snaring a shot hit right at him, then diving headlong to his right to tag out the Miami runner who had taken two steps toward home.

Former catcher Gerwuins Velazco was hitting 90-91, but many of his offerings were up and his pitches seemed a bit flat.

Tell me if you’ve heard this before. Ustariz was back in the action again as he singled, stole second base and scored on Malik Collymore’s RBI single. That put the Reds back on top, 2-1.

Next time through the lineup, Collymore came through for a second time with a double and then Allen Cordoba doubled him home. That set the final score in the White team’s favor.

Red notes

The Marlins scored three runs on eight hits and no errors, edging the Reds, who had two runs on nine hits and no miscues.

As Phil Rizzuto used to say during Yankees telecasts, the rest of my scorecard for this game has “WW”, as in “wasn’t watching.” Sorry!

Looking ahead

Camp is closed on Sundays for a well-deserved day off for players and coaches alike, but readers should keep checking back with The Cardinal Nation for news and interviews from Jupiter, Florida through the next week.

Join the minor league discussion with other Cardinals fans here

Brian Walton can be reached via email at Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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