Following are selected interviews held during day three of the St. Louis Cardinals Winter Warm-Up at the Hyatt Regency at the Arch on Monday, January 18, 2016.
Bill DeWitt III (25:44)
The team president announced the eight Modern era players to appear on this year’s Cardinals team Hall of Fame ballot – Chris Carpenter, Keith Hernandez, Jason Isringhausen, Mark McGwire, Matt Morris, Edgar Renteria, Scott Rolen and Joe Torre. Carpenter, Izzy and Rolen are new for 2016. (For more information, click here.)
DeWitt talked about Phase 2 of Ballpark Village which will “create a village”. Included will be apartments, office space, perhaps a hotel, additional retail and supporting parking. Plans are still preliminary and would use 2-3 blocks of the 5 1/2 available. There will be a couple of more phases after that.
He covered the scoreboard enhancements and how to make the game day experience more enjoyable for fans. The Cardinals will have more 6 p.m. games this season, which the players favor, but fans are mixed in their preference (vs. 7 p.m.). DeWitt closed with a discussion of how the team is improving security.
Tony La Russa (15:58)
The Arizona executive talked about his new organization and why he joined them – “to get back into action”. Regarding favorite versus underdog, he does not care. His message to team is to ignore both praise and criticisms. Otherwise you can lose your edge. It is about playing games and experts often just guessing.
Several managers are several cuts above others. Includes Joe Maddon. “Mike Matheny is a giant. He is SO good. Mo picked the right guy.” La Russa feels “allegiance to the red jacket” and will be in St. Louis for the opener.
La Russa feels opt outs are “smart” and that they “work in both directions.” He sees chemistry as “a tangible intangible”, saying “you can see it.”
Kevin Siegrist (5:47)
The lefty reliever contrasted this winter with last as he was not coming off an injury, so could work on refining his pitches.
Regarding the NLDS, it was “not my day” when he gave up two home runs to the Cubs. It stayed with him for a while, but “stuff like that makes you better”.
Mike Leake (9:30)
The new signee sees the Cardinals rotation being filled with 1s and 2s with the potential to be the best in the game. Leake says bonding with his new teammates will happen in the clubhouse and has already guessed what they will be like.
He joked that he can hopefully teach Adam Wainwright about hitting and predictably is against the designated hitter. He had heard from other pitchers to avoid the American League as a free agent.
Leake is not coming in trying to live up to his contract. He is trying to get better each year. Sees Cubs with “big boppers” who can hurt you and Pirates more scrappy, having to put hits together to score.
Jhonny Peralta (6:58)
The shortstop always wants to play 155 games and works to prepare himself. Says everything worked out in first half of 2015. He did not know why he dropped off in the second half, but noted the challenge of the schedule, guys in the lineup getting hurt and perhaps pitchers changing their approach against him.
Peralta is not against playing other positions in the future as he has past experience at third base and left field – being in the lineup is what matters to him. He believes Aledmys Diaz can play in St. Louis one day.
Jedd Gyorko (8:17)
The new infielder said he circled St. Louis days on his calendar while with San Diego because he always enjoyed playing here. Gyorko was surprised by the trade. He will be wearing #3 with St. Louis, last worn by assistant hitting coach Bill Mueller.
He feels comfortable with all infield positions but has not discussed role with his manager yet. Gyorko said he was sent down to the minors last season to correct “minor mechanics” in his swing. He feels his new simplified approach makes it easier for when he comes off the bench.
Gyorko feels his 2014 problems with plantar fasciitis were taken care of last season.
Carlos Martinez (7:03)
The right-hander did his interview in English. Though teammate Jhonny Peralta was nearby to translate, he was not needed.
Martinez says his rehab, which has been going on all winter at the Cardinals facility in Jupiter, Florida, has helped him recover from his shoulder problem late last season. It was “pretty hard not to pitch in the playoffs” because he wanted to compete.
He feels he is 90% physically and will get better in spring training. Martinez will start throwing “tomorrow”. His only goal in 2016 is to work hard and go to compete.
Martinez says Dominicans are emotional, but when he gets into trouble, he needs to take a breath off the mound. He also likes to help the team have fun and have a good time.
Mike Matheny (33:21)
The manager spoke for over a half hour. He “loves” hearing that Kolten Wong wants to lead off. He says his job is to challenge and help players with goals and aspirations. Matheny said there will be opportunities in spring training to see it.
“I think you are going to see a ridiculous year from Matt Holliday.” On Holliday at first, they “will let him drive the bus and see what is there.” On Randal Grichuk, his goal is to play every day so team helping him with small muscle strengthening and stretching. Matt Adams is in a place he has never been before. Stephen Piscotty is a “phenomenal talent” and the mental side of his game is “special”.
Only thought about underdog role (or praise) is to make sure team does not buy in. He does think it is “kind of amusing” some are putting the Cardinals down the lost. Said “guys were dead” last year – “the way we designed it.” Thinks they had just enough for October. Admits that pushing too far can have lingering effects.
Pillars of team remain Wainwright, Molina, Holliday. Nurturing that with Carpenter and several others. Carpenter is odd combination of top of the order and power as he reinvented himself as a hitter. Offense looked different with him at top.
Sensed disappointment and motivation in Wrigley clubhouse last fall. Already feeling “an edge” with this team.
Trevor Rosenthal (13:34)
In terms of learning, the closer said he is taking a little more time in the off-season for rest as there is enough time in spring training to get ready. Rosenthal believes the 2016 “naturally has an edge”.
He acknowledges the 2016 pen will have a different look and that he, Siegrist and Seth Maness will need to step up in leadership roles.
On Rosenthal’s contract, he admits being in arbitration process for the first time was “eye opening”. If any multi-year deals were discussed, he is apparently unaware. Not worried since he will be with St. Louis the next three years (before being free agent eligible). Overall, he called the process “smooth”.
Check back at The Cardinal Nation for more Winter Warm-Up content 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.
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