After Tuesday’s day off for the St. Louis Cardinals and their minor league clubs, everyone was back to work on Wednesday. The Major League club as well as the Memphis Redbirds and Springfield Cardinals welcomed their Washington Nationals counterparts, while Palm Beach and Peoria hopped buses for the short trip to West Palm Beach. There was also a Red-White sim game at Jupiter.
On Monday, I attended the unusual double-header at Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, with the Nationals entertaining the Yankees in the afternoon, followed two hours later by the Astros welcoming the Cardinals.
The Presidents mascots and their foot races are a popular fixture at Nats games.
The park is new and nice enough, but not spectacular. I am not sure what I expected, but it does not stand out in comparison to other new parks in either Florida or Arizona. In a specific complaint, the scoreboard features the lineups but they are difficult to read.
A new-stadium bug presented itself in the ninth inning of the Cardinals contest and a Buffalo Wild Wings moment ensued. The sprinkler system down the right field line decided to turn itself on, delaying action for several minutes. In the above photo, Cardinals pitcher Miguel Socolovich points toward the problem area.
Minors daily plans
Posted above is the daily plan for the minor leaguers for Wednesday. For those who visit camp, this information is posted each morning on the wall in the lobby of the team office on University Blvd. If you come to Jupiter and are interested in seeing back field action, this stop is an important one to make.
When camp opened, the farthest corner of the major league clubhouse from the manager’s office was jammed full of players whose uniforms numbered in the 80s and 90s. However, after the day off, the picture looked very different. Soon the area will be crowded with items to be trucked back to St. Louis as camp concludes next week.
The handful of remaining non-roster players were integrated into the regular players on the other three walls. There are only two non-roster pitchers remaining – Ryan Sherriff and Arturo Reyes. Among the more numerous position players still in camp are infielders Patrick Wisdom, Paul DeJong and Wilfredo Tovar, outfielders Harrison Bader, Chad Huffman and Adolis Garcia and catchers Eric Fryer and Alberto Rosario.
Reyes rehab plans
I spoke with pitcher Alex Reyes about his rehab plans. The top prospect will not remain in the Jupiter rehab facility during the season, but instead will continue on his recovery process in St. Louis.
Matheny declares key starters and more
As is his custom, manager Mike Matheny fielded questions from the media mid-morning. The wait - while the manager met with the collected team ownership here in Jupiter - was worth the while, as the following was disclosed.
Matheny said that Wainwright “gets it” and went on to tell a story about how Bobby Cox and Leo Mazzone decided their opening day starter in Atlanta by which pitcher finished highest in the previous year’s Cy Young Award vote.
Opening day starter Carlos Martinez was scheduled to throw about 75 pitches Wednesday.
The Memphis and Springfield exhibitions are scheduled for Thursday, March 30 and Friday, March 31, respectively. Matheny said the two starters – Lynn and Leake - would probably pitch abbreviated outings.
While travel rosters may be set as soon as Tuesday next week, St. Louis will likely not lock down its 25-man roster until after both exhibitions are over. By definition, that means Memphis and Springfield rosters will not be final, either. The key thing to look for is how many more than 75 players total travel north (25 players for each of the three teams).
When Yadier Molina returns from the World Baseball Classic, the manager does not plan to give his catcher more rest – noting he had more days off in the WBC than he would have enjoyed in Cardinals camp.
On baserunning, the manager said his team will take the extra base when available, but not force it.
On Stephen Piscotty and Kolten Wong’s troubles at the plate, Matheny said that hitting coaches John Mabry and Bill Mueller track quality at-bats and hard-hit balls and those “are as good or better than hits”. The manager believes they will even out when the regular season begins. He noted that Wong spent a day on the back fields working and that has helped him.
Player Development photo opportunity
As pictured just above, farm director Gary LaRocque assembled the entire player development staff on the main Roger Dean Stadium field at 9:00 a.m. for a group shot. This occurred between the staff meeting and the official start of daily workouts.
In the above from left to right are scouting director Randy Flores and international director Moises Rodriguez. Most of the players in the Red-White scrimmage they were watching were signed by the staffs of the two of them.
Minor league starting lineups and pitching plans
Following morning workouts, two formal 1:00 p.m. games were held in Jupiter. Here are the lineups for the Memphis and Springfield contests. Also included are the sixth-inning replacements. As mentioned above, Palm Beach and Peoria played in West Palm Beach. Selected stat lines for all four games are posted at The Cardinal Nation Blog.
There was a third game at Jupiter, as well. Despite two full squads of A-ball players on the bus, two more teams-worth of players stayed behind for a 4-5 inning sim game with coaches serving as umpires. These teams were called “Red” and “White” as are the squads in instructional league.
Though he was not listed on either lineup card, struggling St. Louis outfielder Tommy Pham served as the designated hitter in the early innings for both Memphis and Springfield, rotating from one field to the other. I did not see every at-bat, but it appeared he did not yet break out of his spring-long slump.
|Cunningham||7||Lankford||DH||J Rivera||DH||Y Gonzalez||5|
|An Garcia||9||A Wilson||9||Robbins||9||Bandes||3|
|J Wilson||5||Diekroeger||5||Katz||Valbuena||5||V Garcia||7|
|Mejia||6||Herrera||6||Turgeon||E Garcia||2||J Rodriguez||2|
As you will see in the table below, Sandy Alcantara was bumped to third for Springfield behind a pair of pitchers down from St. Louis, each to throw one inning. Lefty Tyler Lyons made his first backfield appearance of the spring, followed by Sam Tuivailala.
Wrong way Oviedo
Just before he was scheduled to pitch for the Red team, Johan Oviedo sprinted up to the Kissell Quad. The recent arrival from Cuba via the Dominican Summer League mistakenly boarded the bus with the teams heading to West Palm Beach and had to be driven back to Jupiter to make his real assignment.
Velocities from selected Wednesday’s pitchers follow. The numbers are accurate but the offerings themselves are identified on a best-effort basis on my part.
On this day, only Alcantara made the radar gun pop, with at least two (and perhaps more) offerings at 101 mph, as the top photo confirms.
|Tyler Lyons||88-90||Cutr 80|
|Luke Weaver||92-94||C up 84|
|Leland Tilley||84-85||Sldr 71-72|
|Sam Tuivailala||94-95||Cb 80-82|
|Johan Oviedo||89-91||Cb 72-74|
|C up 84|
|Sandy Alcantara||95-98||C up 90-91|
|T 101||Cb 82-84|
|Robbie Gordon||87||C up 78|
|Jacob Evans||87-89||Cb 78|
|Champ Rowland||87||Cb 70-71|
|Daniel Bard||90-93||C up 85|
|Pedro Echemendia||88||C up 80-82|
|Kevin Herget||88-89||C up 82|
My miscellaneous musings
At 2 2/3 innings and 59 pitches, Weaver’s day was ended. Coaches seemed upbeat about his outing, in which he yielded just one hit and one run.
Replacing Weaver with a runner at second base and two outs in the third was John Brebbia. The righty did not impress like the prior time out, giving up back-to-back RBI doubles. The first of two runs was charged to Weaver.
For Brebbia to escape the above inning with only two runs in, he needed a full diving catch by his center fielder, Blake Drake. The outfielder has been a defensive stalwart this spring.
In fact, in the very next frame, Drake tripled to left-center and scored on a ground out. He later singled as well.
Daniel Bard had a much quieter outing this time out. A runner did reach on an error by Valera at second, but he was erased in a 4-3 twin killing.
Moving into the later innings, Pedro Echemendia allowed a single and double, but escaped with a nice 5-4-3 double play behind him (Jacob Wilson, Valera, Luke Voit).
Ninth-place hitter, catcher Luis Cruz, blasted a home run over the left field fence with this swing.
During Echemendia’s second inning of work, third baseman Jacob Wilson dove after a one-hopper, collected himself and just threw out the Nationals’ baserunner.
Todd Cunningham walked and stole second before Anthony Garcia also coaxed a free pass. The threat was snuffed with Wilson flied out to center and Alex Mejia struck out on the same play that Garcia nailed trying to steal.
The Redbirds lost the game, 8-5.
In Lyons’ first minor league appearance of the spring, it took him just five pitches to secure his three outs. Tuivailala followed to toss the second. Not surprisingly, the right-hander was less efficient, and had some excitement. He mixed his fastball and curve well, dialing up the former to 97 mph for a strikeout. His curve also looked effective. But, Tuivailala also yielded a hard-hit double to center, and Oscar Mercado’s errant throw put the runner at third. The runner was stranded, however.
Alcantara pitched the third and fourth, mixing his three offerings nicely. After 25 pitches, he went to the bullpen to throw his final 10 pitches as prescribed by coaches.
Replacement second baseman Darren Seferina made a very nice diving stop to his left to throw out the runner. Pitcher Jacob Evans was the beneficiary.
Josh Lucas, who got everyone out in big-league camp, could not do the same against the Nats’ Double-A hitters. The right-hander gave up an earned run on a triple to right center and a sacrifice fly. After a single, Lucas was bailed out by a 6-4-3 twin killing (Casey Turgeon, Seferina, Casey Grayson).
With two number 5s on the corners (Vaughn Bryan and Seferina), a balk by the Nats’ hurler placed a run. After Grayson flied out to advance Seferina, Cole Lankford brought him home with a single to right. The threat ended there as both Allen Staton and Turgeon struck out.
The Cards won, 3-2.
Red 3, White 1
In what was I believe to be his second inning of work on Wednesday, Oviedo walked a batter, who then stole second. He moved up and scored on an error by the second baseman.
I asked a team official if Oviedo always works in the 89-91 mph range. His reply was, “Check back in a month or so.” My response was, “It may have to be in Peoria.”
Robbie Gordon yielded a pair of singles, but stranded both.
On Thursday at 1:00 p.m. on the Kissell Quad, the Cardinals’ Memphis and Springfield squads will take on the Astros while Palm Beach and Peoria will travel to WPB to play Houston’s Class-A teams.
Much more from Jupiter ahead in the upcoming week, including a series of interviews with several top prospects still in major league camp.
For more information
Remember to check The Cardinal Nation Blog each evening during spring training for the day's minor league stat highlights and notes and for 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 and more.
Prior related articles
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