With most of the major leaguers on a bus for their road trip to Port St. Lucie on Friday, the St. Louis Cardinals minor leaguers at the Triple-A and Double-A level also made the trip to take on their Mets counterparts. Meanwhile, the Palm Beach and Peoria clubs prepared to take on the Mets youngsters on the back fields in Jupiter.
All this is set against a backdrop of the threat of rain and thunderstorms. All games were scheduled for 1:00 p.m.
While Tim Cooney and Mitch Harris have both missed time this spring, the two are on different trajectories. Cooney said he feels great after his throwing on Wednesday and is scheduled to pitch in the big-league game on Saturday.
I asked Cooney if there is enough time to get ready for the start of the season and if he had ever been a reliever before. In reply to the first question, he said he does not know. To the latter, he said his only time in relief was when he piggy-backed with a rehabbing Joe Kelly several years ago.
Though no one has talked to him about the idea of opening the season as a reliever to build up his workload, Cooney said he is open to whatever the organization wants. My guess is a stint on Memphis’ disabled list.
Mitch Harris is having another test on Friday, for nerve compression. While upbeat that the issue seems non-structural, the right-hander clearly wishes he could be throwing.
With time running out to pitch again this spring, it seems likely that Harris will begin on the DL. Unless he is healthy enough to pitch for St. Louis this spring, Harris would probably have to be placed on St. Louis’ DL, rather than Memphis’.
Though there has been nothing official from the team, reliever Jordan Walden has not pitched on his regular schedule, leading to speculation that his shoulder problems may not have gone away with rest and rehab. Watch for more information in the next few days.
Update: When asked about Walden during Saturday's telecast on FOX Sports Midwest, general manager John Mozeliak said that the team prefers that relievers be able to pitch on back to back days if needed rather than just once every two or three days.
Minor league starting lineups and pitching plans for Friday
I made the decision to stay behind in Jupiter to cover the Palm Beach and Peoria games, held on the George Kissell Quad. For selected highlights of the Memphis and Springfield games, check The Cardinal Nation blog Friday evening.
Here are the starting lineups and pitching plans.
|Memphis||Pos||Springfield||Pos||Palm Beach||Pos||Peoria 1||Pos|
|J Rod||1||Jacobs||3||Dennard||3||R Garcia||3|
Velocities from some of Friday’s pitchers follow.
|Jacob Evans||88-89||c/up 80|
|Josh Wirsu||91-92||sldr 79-80|
|Landon Beck||89-91||split 83-84|
|Frederis Parra||86-89||c/up 84|
|Dewin Perez||89-90||sldr 78|
|Ramon Santos||92-93||cb 78-79|
My miscellaneous musings
Sometime this morning, the threat of afternoon rain caused the games to be moved up to 11:00 a.m. As it turned out, the precipitation stayed away long enough to get the games in, though the humidity, helped by overnight rains, was high. At 2:40, it began to pour, but it was too late to affect play.
The games were relatively quickly played, with Peoria finishing first. The Class-A club lost 1-0. The Palm Beach game was tied at 1-1 until the Cardinals broke through with three in the eighth to take a 4-1 victory.
After a quiet first against Jacob Evans, the Mets made noise in the second. New York had a runner on base and looked to have an RBI on a double – except for a perfectly executed relay from center fielder Magneuris Sierra to the relay man, shortstop Edmundo Sosa to catcher Jesse Jenner, who tagged out the sliding runner.
There was a long delay before the home third. It was not clear if the Mets pitcher had been injured or Evans’ quick work in the top of the inning caught the New Yorkers without a warm pitcher.
The Cards scored in the fourth as Magneuris Sierra walked and moved up on Edmundo Sosa’s second single of the game. Allen Staton brought Sierra home on a ground rule double that one-hopped over the left field fence. R.J. Dennard fanned with two in scoring position to end the frame.
Though Landon Beck was listed among the Peoria pitchers, he followed Evans for Palm Beach. Beck has a very, very good sinking splitter that could serve him well as a reliever down the road – if his third pitch, a curveball, does not develop.
After a single earlier, Leobaldo Pina doubled into the left field corner, but was stranded.
Beck worked around a double in his second frame (the fifth) but in the sixth, he walked home the tying run before the Cardinals rolled the inning.
Sosa collected his third hit of the day, a single to left-center after seeing eight or nine pitches. The shortstop has an interesting stance in that for timing he twists his lead toes (on his left foot) into the ground as the ball approaches. This time, Staton couldn’t collect the RBI, instead grounding into a double play.
In the eighth, Staton was up again, reaching on an infield single. There was another runner on base as well when Orlando Olivera (pictured above) came up. The right-fielder, who had fanned twice earlier, showed power and speed on the same play with a two-run triple. He came home on Ryan McCarvel sacrifice fly to make the final score 4-1.
Late in the game, I noticed Palm Beach put the shift on against one of the Mets hitters. A coach explained that it is something they are looking at using. Given the great familiarity the Cardinals have with the Mets and Marlins players, it could be helpful in a Gulf Coast League contest, for example.
In the first inning, the Mets got to Cards starter Josh Wirsu with an RBI double. He dodged further damage in the third. After a single, stolen base and a walk, a liner to second baseman Danny Martin ended the threat.
Jhohan Acevedo made a nice sliding catch in centerfield in the second inning. Had the ball gotten past him, it could have been a triple. Catcher Frankie Rodriguez made a diving catch of his own on a short pop up down the third base line.
Brady Bowen had an eventful fourth as one runner was erased on a double play. Two hits and a wild pitch put two more Mets in scoring position, but he secured the third out.
Allen Cordoba and Bladimil Franco singled in the fifth. Luis Bandes put together a tough at-bat, fighting off a number of pitches before striking out for the third out. It was the Cards’ last good scoring opportunity on the day.
Though the Cards could not score, among others with hits was Jose Martinez (single off the third baseman’s glove).
What is next
The Cardinals are scheduled to hold another camp day on Saturday, with Memphis against Springfield and Palm Beach taking on Peoria. If you are coming, expect early games. I hope to have details tonight in the report mentioned below.
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
Cards Release Once-Promising Lefty Stoppelman
Cards Spring News from Jupiter: 03/24/16
Cards Spring News from Jupiter: 03/23/16
Cardinals Minors Working Rosters - 03/22/16
Cardinals Say Goodbye to Three Minor Leaguers
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