Following are selected interviews held during day one of the St. Louis Cardinals Winter Warm-Up at the Hyatt Regency at the Arch on Saturday, January 16, 2016.
Tommy Pham (11:32)
The outfielder demonstrated a quiet confidence, noting that he finished 2016 “on a high note”, attributing it in part to moving his hands back while hitting to get “on time” against the fastball.
Pham believes new contacts which he will get next week will better address his ongoing medical condition with his corneas, called keratoconus, which was first diagnosed in 2008 and bothered him again during 2015.
To try to deal with injuries, including hamstring pulls, Pham is working to improve his nutrition. He was told he was not eating enough vegetables, which affected the cellular tissue in his muscles. He also says he probably stretches the most of anyone on the team.
Greg Garcia (3:28)
The infielder says he comes to camp with the same expectations each year, but admits that his chances are getting better each spring. For him, the most difficult position is short, so he focuses his off-season work there, believing that “if you can play shortstop, you can play second and third base.” On the hitting side, he realizes he has to be ready when called upon to pinch hit, an area at which he stood out in 2015.
Marco Gonzales (9:45)
Had to “hit big reset” as result of 2015 injuries. Had gone through pain and soreness before, but not injury. Felt pinch in shoulder (impingement) in April then after rehab, it came back. First time he ever struggled – maybe he “needed to be served humble pie” after 2014.
Had different off-season training routine this year in Seattle area with Oregon State players including Mets outfielder Michael Conforto. Got on mound on schedule two days ago. Great to not think about anything other than where ball is going. Feels 100 percent.
Matt Carpenter (19:24)
Referring to comments by former teammate Jason Heyward, the infielder noted that the Cardinals do not need newspaper clippings to be motivated against the Cubs.
As a hitter, Carpenter says he is still learning about himself but did last season that he does have a little power. He sees himself having skills for leading off versus hitting later in the order, but added that he would hit third if that is what manager Mike Matheny wants.
Carpenter admitted that he learned last season to not run himself into the ground and that it is important to listen to his body. That was the result of his five days out in early May with what was called “extreme fatigue.”
Brandon Moss (19:42)
The first baseman/outfielder attributed his 2014 injury to squats in the weight room. Moss feels he brings a lot to the table, but specifically promised power, saying modestly that is the one thing that has kept him in the game.
Interesting that later on, Mozeliak noted that the Cardinals were unaware of the extent of Moss’ injury when they acquired him, noting his 15 home runs at the time.
Seth Maness (6:25)
The reliever said his recent contact negotiations, which led to a $1.4 million deal were smooth. He continues to pride himself on doing whatever the Cardinals need him to do. Like Trevor Rosenthal before him, Maness said he still harbors a desire to be a starting pitcher.
Jaime Garcia (7:22)
Though quiet with the media, Garcia is ready to mentor younger pitchers like Marco Gonzales and Carlos Martinez like Chris Carpenter did once for him. He did not want to talk about contract (his 2016 option was picked up, but his 2017 one remains unexercised) and remains positive about the future.
This was his first off-season in the last three or four that Garcia was not rehabbing an injury, Mozeliak reminded later.
John Mozeliak (46:45)
Warning: This is a long and far-reaching session of just over 45 minutes. No matter how much I summarize, there will be much more there in the audio.
General areas include outfield depth, missing out on free agents, not worrying about which team is favored, relief signings, Rule 5 losses, Jedd Gyorko’s upside, Brandon Moss, more offense, designated hitter discussion, Trevor Rosenthal’s one-year contract, view of the opt-out trend and more.
One area I want to call out specifically is the establishment of a new Performance Department targeted initially at minor leaguers. Under Dr. Robert Butler from Duke University, managing the areas of fatigue, nutrition and training will be organized and measured in this few group.
Also, Dr. Lyndon Skaggs has left the Cardinals with former Memphis athletic trainer Jeremy Clipperton promoted to the opening with St. Louis created when Adam Olsen was promoted to Cardinals head athletic trainer.
Lance Lynn (4:32)
Lynn was more upbeat than at past Winter Warm-Ups, despite the fact he will miss all of 2016 due to Tommy John surgery. He said his brace was removed this week.
He provided additional information about how he pitched in 2015 while injured. His flexor tendon “flared up in May”. He went onto the disabled list in June to “strengthen the ligament and get through the season.” Though surgery was an option at that time, Lynn elected to keep pitching, in part due to “Adam (Wainwright) being out”.
Lynn mentioned that he only threw lightly between starts and often threw only fastballs because he “felt more pain throwing breaking pitches”. The reason he delayed surgery from October to November to see one last time if he “stopped hurting”.
Charlie Tilson (4:34)
The centerfield prospect credited some learning about baserunning from Lewis Brinson in the Arizona Fall League. Brinson, a Rangers prospect, had been a Texas League opponent. Tilson noted opponents had paid more attention to him on the bases later in the season.
Tilson said he would like to hit for more power and believes he can do it and is after more consistency.
The Chicago-area native said he moved into the city over the off-season and has no issue getting grief from friends. He believes the Cubs rivalry is good for the game and is appreciative of being a Cardinal.
Matt Adams (6:01)
The first baseman says he “put more muscle on” and leaned up a little bit. He did not quantify how much and attributes it to a new off-season workout regimen that includes “tempo-based” activity.
Adams said he “wants to prove everybody wrong who thought last season was the player I am.” He is very complimentary of Brandon Moss and appears to have a good relationship, even though the two are competing for playing time.
I asked him what his plan would be against the shift. He said it will not be bunts, semi-joking that he only got down about one of six. Instead, he is focusing on driving the ball better to left field.
I also asked about pinch-hitting regularly, which he reminded me that he did in 2013 before Allen Craig was hurt.
Note: While Yadier Molina was in attendance, the catcher declined to speak with the media for reasons unknown except by him.
Check back at The Cardinal Nation for more Winter Warm-Up content throughout the weekend and in the days that follow. Selected photos of all the above individuals and more are now loaded at TheCardinalNationblog.com, so check them out, too.
Note: Special thanks to colleague Brian Stull of St. Louis Baseball Weekly for sharing several of these interviews recorded while I was elsewhere at Winter Warm-Up.
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