Once again, I am reporting from St. Louis Cardinals extended spring training camp in a very quiet, cloudy and breezy Jupiter, Florida. To be accurate, it is quiet for the fans and media, and there was not a scout in the house, but it was anything but quiet for the 82 players active and another five rehabbing. (To see roster details of the Red and White teams plus rehabbers, click here.)
Here are some player updates before we get to game news.
Marco is ready
After throwing 70-75 pitches over four innings (20-18-22-11, to be exact) in his fourth rehab outing, lefty Marco Gonzales pronounced himself ready, telling me “this should be it”. His recovery from Tommy John surgery last summer is almost complete, and he said his shoulder ailments are in the past.
Speaking of elbow ligaments, it is the reason JD Crowe did not sign with the Cardinals after the June 2016 draft. The outfielder required the Seth Maness repair surgery, but the organization wanted to monitor his recovery before making the final commitment, which they did last month.
Jery Then had dealt with shoulder soreness for at least the last year. It has gotten better through rehab, according to the right-hander. The reliever has thrown up to 40 pitches in his most recent bullpen session, his sixth, and he hopes to be cleared for game action soon.
Like Then, Cardinals 2016 first-round draft pick Nick Plummer is back in EST for the second straight year due to injury. However, Plummer has now played two games and with continued progress, should be back in Peoria soon.
During the game, Dariel Gomez was running the bases on an empty field under the watchful eye of a trainer. The first baseman told me he is working his way back from a hamstring injury.
Oquendo in action
During the game, infield instructor Jose Oquendo was working on a nearby field with three youngsters, Caleb Lopes, Stalin Balbuena and Danny Martin.
White/State College pitching coach Darwin Marrero is sporting a sling on his right arm. I asked if he had thrown too much batting practice, but he said that he damaged his rotator cuff in a fall at home.
As noted in the earlier article detailing the extended spring training rosters, the Cardinals players in camp are split into two teams.
White players, led by State College skipper Joe Kruzel, are the more experienced ones while the Red team, headed by Gulf Coast League manager Steve Turco, typically includes the younger players. Nothing is cast in ink as players move across rosters as necessary.
It should be noted that in intrasquad games, pitchers often face their teammates, as they the hitters of the most comparable experience level.
On Tuesday, the White squad “hosted” the Red team on Field 1, the closest to the clubhouse. Because I had the “luxury” of covering just one game, I could track all outs, so what follows is more in depth than usual. Not surprisingly, pitching led the way, though there were several offensive highlights as well.
Starting pitchers were Marco Gonzales and Johan Oviedo, TCN's 27th and 18th-ranked prospects, respectively.
|A Wilson||9||J Rodriguez||2|
Pitching plans and velocities
|Gonzales||4||FB 90-91||Oviedo||4||FB 88-90|
|C-up 82-83||C-up 81-83|
|CB 76-77||CB 71-77|
|Schlesener||3||FB 88-91||Thomson||3||FB 86-88|
|CB 77-78||C- up 81|
|Changarotty||2||FB 88-91||Calvano||2||FB 90-92|
|CB 77-78||Sl 79-80|
Game notes: Red 4 at White 2
Top 1st (Gonzales): After two strikeouts by Marco, Yariel Gonzalez reached on an infield single. Austin Wilson doubled on a one-hopper off the left field wall. At 20 pitches, the inning was rolled. Gonzales may have thrown more sliders and curveballs than fastballs. It was a true mix.
Bottom 1st (Oviedo): The leadoff man, Jonatan Machado walked and swiped second. Johan Oviedo escaped the jam with a 4-3 sandwiched between two strikeouts. Like Marco, he used three pitches liberally, but also like Gonzales, his velocity was in the very low 90’s. This is similar to what I saw from Oviedo six weeks ago in spring training.
T2nd (Gonzales): After a leadoff single past second base by Vince Jackson, Marco buckled down with two fly balls and a strikeout to close the frame.
B2nd (Oviedo): J.D. Murders hopped on the first pitch for a sharp single up the middle. When Jonathan Rivera rang an RBI triple into the right field corner, Wilson hit the fence and the impact weakened his throw, enabling the final base to be taken. The outfielder later mentioned that was a surgically-repaired shoulder and initially he lost feeling in it. Brady Whelan dinked a single into left that scored Rivera. Whelen moved all the way to third when Oviedo’s pickoff throw eluded first baseman Hunter Newman. That led to a mound visit by Marrero. Leandro Cedeno walked, but was thrown out stealing second. When Crowe was hit by a pitch, the inning was rolled. White 2-0.
T3rd (Gonzales): After a 5-3 and strikeout of Plummer looking, Delvin Perez hit a screaming one-hopper toward third. Seeing third baseman Elehuris Montero was slow to react, Perez kept running and just made it into second ahead of the tag. The shortstop then seemed to get Marco off his rhythm by jumping and taking an aggressive lead. After a long at-bat, Gonzalez was retired on a 5-3 to end the threat.
B3rd (Oviedo): Baseball is a funny game. One inning after struggling mightily, Oviedo threw a 1-2-3 frame against the 9-1-2 hitters, including a strikeout of Carlos Talavera looking.
T4th (Gonzales): In what would be his final frame, Marco struck out Wilson looking and Jackson swinging. Juan Herrera singled off Gonzales literally before Irving Wilson flied out to center. After coming off, Gonzales consulted with manager Steve Turco and pitching coach Giovanni Carrera.
B4th (Oviedo): Apparently the pattern was alternating innings as Oviedo was having trouble throwing strikes, walking the bases loaded (Carlos Soto, Julio Rodriguez and JD Murders). For the second time, his inning was rolled. Oviedo’s pitch count by inning was 19-14-17-14.
T5th (Schlesener): Lefty Jacob Schlesener took over for Gonzales and logged three quick outs. Newman fanned, Matt Fiedler was retired 1-3 and Plummer flied out to center.
B5th (Thomson): And another lefty, Colton Thomson, succeeded Oviedo and also had a 1-2-3 frame. Sanel Rosendo fanned, Montero flied out to left and Rodriguez lined out to second.
T6th (Schlesener): Schlesner apparently caught the Oviedo inconsistency bug, walking the sacks loaded (Perez, Gonzalez, A Wilson). Pitching coach Gio Carrara visited after the second free pass. One run scored on a 4-6-3 off Jackson’s bat. Herrera plated another on a single to center. That led to the inning being rolled. Tie 2-2.
B6th (Thomson): A second straight very efficient frame occurred via a K of Crowe looking, a Talavera fly to center and swinging whiff of Machado.
T7th (Schlesener): Newman fanned swinging before Irving Wilson drew a walk. The threat ended on a 5-4-3 twin killing off the bat of Fiedler.
B7th (Thomson): I missed the first out while quizzing Then, followed by Martinez’ fly out to the first baseman. Carlos Soto’s single to left ended Thomson’s perfect three innings, so the pitcher picked him off to end his afternoon. As the numbers attest, Thomson doesn’t have big velocity, but his one time through the lineup was extremely effective. He threw 11-13-15 pitchers in his three frames.
T8th (Changarotty): Will Changarotty quickly got into trouble with a leadoff single past second by Wadye Ynfante followed by another hustle double by Perez. Gonzalez collected an RBI on a single to left. After Turco visited the mound, Austin Wilson plated another on a single to left. After Jackson fanned, the inning was rolled. Red 4-2.
B8th (Calvano): Daniel Calvano was the final pitcher of the day. He opened with a strikeout of Murders, but Rosendo clubbed a ball to center that hopped over the fence on one bounce. A fly ball and 4-3 ended the threat.
T9th (Changarotty): Another good inning after bad as the right-hander finished his day with a 5-3, popout to the catcher and 1-3.
B9th (Calvano): Crowe lined out to short and Talavera singled up the middle. The game ended on a nifty 4-6-3 with the speedy Machado up.
Final: Red 4 at White 2
My top pitcher was Marco Gonzales, but Colton Thomson also impressed. With two hustle doubles, Delvin Perez is my top hitter of the day.
Speaking of Perez again, the first thing I noticed after the game ended was that Oquendo found the shortstop for some final feedback. As an aside, I see Machado and Perez as having the same wiry, thin build, but the latter is several inches taller.
© 2017 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com and scout.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.