Chris Carpenter (Brad Barr / USA TODAY Sports Images)

A recap of St. Louis Cardinals-related news from the period of February 20-26, 2017.

Last week’s St. Louis Cardinals news includes the first two spring games, an international free agent signing, team-building, return of a team Hall of Famer and more.

Spring Training game recaps

Saturday, February 25 - Cardinals 7 at Marlins 8

In the first game of Spring Training, the St. Louis Cardinals were edged by the Miami Marlins 8-7.  Luke Weaver made the start and was followed on the mound by Seung-Hwan Oh, Austin Gomber, John Gant, and Zach Phillips.  The Marlins scored against every pitcher except Phillips.

The Cardinals had eight total hits; Jedd Gyorko leading with two.  Matt Carpenter hit a two-run home run and Harrison Bader added a solo shot.  RBI were provided by Carpenter with three, and Stephen Piscotty, Carson Kelly, Bader and Anthony Garcia with one each.

 

Sunday, February 26 - Cardinals 7, Marlins 4

The Cardinals again faced the Marlins, this time as the home team.  St. Louis prevailed by a score of 7-4.  The start was made by Mike Mayers, with Jonathan Broxton, Brett Cecil, Sandy Alcantara, Corey Baker, and Matt Bowman following.  Alcantara had a rough 1 1/3 innings, allowing all four Marlins runs on five hits.

The Cardinals scored seven without aid of the long ball.  Designated hitter Yadier Molina and Eric Fryer each drove in two runs.  Aledmys Diaz, Edmundo Sosa, Wilfredo Tovar each had one RBI.  Molina, Fryer and Diaz were all 2-for-2.

 

Cuban outfielder signs

On Friday, the Cardinals signed Cuban outfielder Jose Adolis Garcia to a minor league contract with an invite to major league camp. The deal includes a $2.5 million dollar bonus.  The 24 year old is the younger brother of Adonis Garcia, third baseman for the Atlanta Braves.

http://www.scout.com/player/215506-jose-adolis-garcia?s=321

Garcia became a free agent in December. The right handed hitter is a versatile outfielder who can play all three positions.  Garcia slashed .317/.395/.517 for the Tigres de Ciego de Avila in Cuba in 2016 and was the MVP of the Cuban National Series.

Garcia is at the Cardinals Spring Training Complex in Jupiter and has been assigned uniform No. 75. He will be unable to play in games for St. Louis until he can receive a work visa, a process that could take several weeks. Garcia is expected to officially open his professional career in the upper levels of the Cardinals minor league system.

 

Players “escape” camp in team building event

On Thursday, Cardinals players in major league camp were taken off site on an unexpected field trip.  Two separate groups of players, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, were bussed to a local “Escape Room” called Legends of Xscape.  Escape Rooms are physical adventure games where participants are locked into a room and must solve puzzles to escape.  Teams made up of several players each participated as a team building exercise to foster bonding and familiarity.

The excursion was suggested to manager Mike Matheny by Adam Wainwright.  Wainwright explained that there were some issues with clubhouse chemistry in 2016, and the trip was taken to try to build more cohesiveness for the coming season.

Matheny did not participate in the exercise, but put together the teams, focusing on players who might not otherwise interact.  Wainwright was paired with three non-roster players - catcher Jeremy Martinez, and pitchers Jake Woodford and Jack Flaherty.  This team had to rescue aliens to escape the room.  Another team had to steal a treasure chest before being captured.

Players declared fun was had by all.

 

Chris Carpenter to be guest instructor

Former Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter will arrive in Jupiter, Florida as a new addition to the guest instructors in major league camp. He pitched for St. Louis from 2004 to 2012, culminating a career which included the Cy Young Award in 2009 and World Series championships in 2006 and 2011.  Carpenter served as a Special Assistant to General Manager John Mozeliak in 2014, but left that role after one year.  He was inducted into the Cardinals Hall of Fame last summer.

http://www.scout.com/player/56609-chris-carpenter?s=321

In addition to Carpenter, Cardinals’ guest instructors include former Cardinals Ozzie Smith, Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, and Jim Edmonds.  Former Cardinals managers Red Schoendienst and Whitey Herzog might also make appearances in Cardinals’ camp.

 

Changes at Busch Stadium

Cardinals president Bill DeWitt III told he media that fans can expect some changes at Busch Stadium for the upcoming season.

They include a conversion of party rooms on the 300 level into an all-inclusive area dubbed the “Perficient Red Jacket Club”.  The new club pays tribute to Cardinals Hall of Famers who wear the red jacket at official functions.

In addition, renovations are being made to the Family Pavilion in right field, and improvements to the sound system in the concourses.  Upgrades to security, including a Department of Homeland Security certification, are in the works as well.

 

Transactions

The Cardinals signed free agent outfielder Jose Adolis Garcia to a minor league contract with an invite to major league spring training.

 

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

The Cardinals had scouts at highly-touted Cuban outfielder Luis Robert’s recent workout in the Dominican Republic, reports the Post-Dispatch.  Robert left Cuba in November and has since established residency in Haiti, the same path followed by Garcia.

St. Louis has already exceeded its international pool limit for the July 2 signing period and seems willing to continue spending, but needs Robert to be declared eligible by MLB no later than June 15 to have a chance to sign him. Competition for the services of the talented 19 year old is expected to be considerable, with the price high.

The Cardinals are one of four teams "dug into the sweepstakes" for White Sox left-hander Jose Quintana, according to a Sunday report from CBS Chicago. The rebuilding Sox have had the 28-year-old on the market all winter, but are apparently looking for a better offer than those they have received to date. Other teams rumored to be among the primary contenders are the Yankees, Astros and Pirates.

Quintana is scheduled to pitch in the World Baseball Classic for Team Colombia.

Injury Report

It was revealed this past week that second baseman Kolten Wong is still suffering from shoulder soreness related to a slip and fall in the outfield last season in a game at Wrigley Field.  Wong has yet to appear in a Spring Training game, and his first scheduled appearance is yet to be determined.  An MRI conducted in January revealed inflammation in the shoulder.  Wong had a cortisone injection in the offseason and shoulder strengthening exercises were added to his Spring Training workouts.

http://www.scout.com/player/156983-kolten-wong?s=321

Marco Gonzales (Tommy John surgery on left elbow) is continuing his rehab and is expected to be available to pitch by the end of May.

Kevin Siegrist (left shoulder soreness) threw his first bullpen on Wednesday, 25 pitches in total. The lefty will follow a normal workout routine with several more bullpens to follow.  Facing live hitters will be the next goal.  There is no timetable for Siegrist to make his first appearance in spring training game action.

 

Looking Ahead

The first games of Spring Training began over the weekend.  The Cardinals faced the Marlins in both games and won the second.  In the coming week, the Cardinals play the Red Sox and the Nationals in split squad games on Monday, followed by the Braves on Tuesday and Thursday, the Mets on Wednesday and Sunday, and the Nationals again on Friday and Saturday.

The full Spring Training schedule can be found here.  The updated spring game broadcasting schedule can be found here, at the TCN blog.

Several Cardinals players will be participating in the World Baseball Classic, which begins on March 6.  The players are Seung Hwan Oh (Korea) Carlos Martinez (Dominican Republic), Matt Carpenter and Brett Cecil (USA), and Yadier Molina (Puerto Rico).  Alex Reyes was schedule to participate for the Dominican Republic, but Tommy John surgery has sidelined Reyes for the entire season.  All players will miss some or most of Spring Training to take part in the Classic.  In addition to the major league players, five minor league players will also participate: Alberto Rosario (DR), Corey Baker and Ryan Sheriff (Israel), Trey Nielsen (Italy), and Rowan Wick (Canada).  Information about the tournament, including the schedule and pools, can be found at www.worldbaseballclassic.com .

Opening Day is scheduled for Sunday, April 2, as the Cardinals play the Cubs at 7:30 pm, a game that will be televised on ESPN.  The Cardinals’ regular season schedule can be found here.

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