Vince Jackson (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Brian Walton’s Thursday news from St. Louis Cardinals extended spring training camp in Jupiter, Florida.

Heading the day’s news in St. Louis Cardinals extended training camp are outfielder Vince Jackson and pitcher Yeison Medina. Austin Wilson showed a strong arm in right field.

The following is my recap of day three in St. Louis Cardinals extended spring training camp in Jupiter, Florida. However, most of it was actually spent in West Palm Beach at the new Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, where the Cardinals were visiting. Thursday weather was much like Wednesday, mostly clear with wind from the east and temperatures in the mid-80’s.

(To see roster details of the Red and White teams plus rehabbers, click here.)

Here are some general news items before we get to the games.

New park

I had been to the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches this spring, but only to the major league park. The minor league fields are close and nicely outfitted, with two large sets of cages. One downside is that they are not arranged in a quad fashion, making following multiple games more challenging.

What is odd is that neither the Astros nor their neighbors, the Washington Nationals, field teams in the Florida State League. So while the Gulf Coast League uses the back fields, the main stadium is empty 11 months of the year. Hopefully that will change over time.

Hello, Rachel

Rachel Balkovec, Darwin Marrero (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Former Cardinals Minor League Strength and Conditioning Coordinator Rachel Balkovec, now Houston’s Latin American Strength and Conditioning Coordinator, was on the job Thursday. Since we share home towns, I always felt a kinship with the first female ever in her field. In the above photo Rachel catches up with Cardinals pitching coach Darwin Marrero.

Speaking of...

Brian Walton / The Cardinal Nation

The blond ponytail of the base umpire in the Red game gave her sex away. Unfortunately, I did not catch the female umpire’s name, but she and her partner behind the plate called a clean game.

Sanchez sidelined

I could have included this in the game description, but I did not want it to be lost in the details. In the top of the ninth of the White contest, right fielder Brian Sanchez injured his right knee while running to first base on what turned out to be a 6-4-3 double play.

Brian Sanchez (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

The reigning Dominican Summer League Player of the Year looked to encounter trouble as he neared the bag and fell to the ground just after. Trainers and coaches ran over as Sanchez remained on the ground for several minutes before being helped to a cart over to the Cardinals side, where he was attended to. Once the game was complete, the 21-year old was again carted to the team bus, with a large ice pack visible on his right knee.

As indicated in the lineups below, Walker Robbins took over for Sanchez for the final half inning in the field.

Game preview

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.

On Tuesday, the Red team took on the Astros on Houston’s Field 1. The White team did the same with their counterparts on the next field down, Field 2. As a result, I had to try to divide my time between the two contests. It was better than Wednesday, but less ideal than covering games on the Kissell Quad in Jupiter.

Batting orders

Orders          
Red Pos   White Pos  
Plummer 8   Mercado DH  
D Perez 6   Martinez SS  
Jackson 7   Ortega EH  
A Wilson 9   I Wilson C  
Gonzalez 6   Murders 4  
Lopez 2   C Rodriguez 3  
Fennell DH   Montero 6  
Newman 3   Sanchez 7 Robbins
Lopes 4   Talavera 8  
      Rosendo 9  

Pitching plans and velocities

Pitching            
Red IP Velo   White IP Velo
Casadilla 4 Fb 87-90   E Perez 3 Fb 87-90
    Cb 74       C-up 84
Medina 3 90-92 T93       Cb 71-74
    C-up 88   Shew 3 Fb 87-90
    Sldr 83       C-up 79-81
Siomkin 2 Fb 88-90   Rowland 2 Fb 83-86
    Sldr 85   D Perez 1 Fb 87-90
Mulford b/u          

Game notes: Red 7, Astros 4

T1st: Nick Plummer opened with a single and distracted the pitcher by dancing off the first base bag, Vince Jackson drew a one-out walk, but the two runners were stranded.

B1st (Franyel Casadilla): It was not a good start for the 20-year old, as the second batter blasted a solo home run to left. Over his three-year career, Casadilla has allowed just four homers in 169 2/3 innings. Then again, this is not the DSL or GCL. An Astros hitter also doubled into the right field corner, but ever so slightly overran the bag. A perfect throw from Austin Wilson to Delvin Perez led to the second out. Astros 1-0.

T3rd: Caleb Lopes, a short and stout second baseman, slapped a double to deep left. Plummer’s single past the diving second baseman collected the RBI. Mick Fennell doubled but after Perez popped up to the first baseman, Jackson grounded into a 4-6-3 twin killing. Tie 1-1.

B3rd (Casadilla): An Astro doubled and took third on a wild pitch. He scored on a double off the left field fence. That runner came home on another double, this time to right, but the hitter was nailed trying to stretch it to a triple on another strong throw from Wilson. Astros 3-1.

T4th: A Wilson and Gonzalez walked. With one out, Fennell’s single to right scored Wilson. With runners on the corners, the Astros third baseman tried and failed to backhand a hard shot off the bat of Hunter Newman. Gonzalez, breaking on the pitch, scored. A pitching change led to fly ball outs from Lopes and Plummer. Tie 3-3.

B4th (Casadilla): An Astros runner reached, but did not score.

T5th: A 1-2-3 inning.

B5th (Yeison Medina): After a flyout, the second batter doubled into the left field corner. He advanced on a 4-3. A walk put runners on the corners, but a strikeout ended the Houston threat.

T6th: With two outs, Fennell singled to center. He took second and third on wild pitches. Newman walked but Lopes fanned swinging.

B6th (Medina): One Astro reached, but was stranded.

T7th: After Plummer fanned, Perez took over. The shortstop walked, took second on a wild pitch and stole third. Jackson followed with a home run to right field. I would not be surprised if Perez’ antics distracted the pitcher (see top photo and just below). Red 5-3.

Vince Jackson (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

B7th (Medina): An Astros hitter singled with one out, but did not advance.

T8th: Gonzalez doubled leading off and Lopez singled to short right, putting runners on the corners. Fennell walked to load the sacks. Newman walked to force in a run. Lopes fanned but the Astros rolled the inning before Stephen Zavala could bat. Red 6-3.

B8th (Keaton Siomkin): A 1-2-3 inning ended with a strikeout.

T9th: Jackson singled to right with two down, but was stranded.

B9th (Siomkin): The Astros were retired in order, with the final two outs being strikeouts.

The official score was 7-4. As you can see, all I saw was 6-3, but hey, the Cardinals won, either way.

Game notes: Astros 2, White 0

B1st (Enrique Perez): The Astros had runners on first and second, but the lefty just over from the DSL escaped the jam.

T2nd: With one out, Carlos Rodriguez launched a one-hop double off the left field fence. However, he was hit in the head in a pickoff attempt and had to be checked out by trainers and coaches. The first baseman remained in the game, but did not score after Elehuris Montero (looking) and Brian Sanchez (swinging) struck out.

B2nd (Perez): An Astros runner reached, but with two out, he was gunned down trying to steal second on a bullet throw from Irving Wilson to J.D. Murders.

T3rd: Jonatan Machado singled to left with two out, but was erased trying to steal second base.

Jonatan Machado (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

B3rd (Perez): Perez hit a batter, who then stole second base. He was stranded, however.

B4th (Anthony Shew): The reliever yielded a leadoff triple to center, but did a great job putting up a zero on successive 5-3, 4-2 thrown out at the plate and fly out to second base plays.

T5th: A 1-2-3 inning on a Murders K and flies to center by Rodriguez and Montero.

B5th (Shew): This time, the Astros leadoff man doubled and he came home on a single past the second baseman. A walk put another runner on, but a 4-6-3 and a 1-3 putout ended the threat. Astros 1-0.

T6th: Another quiet frame for the White hitters as Sanchez (fly out to left), Talavera (pop out to catcher) and Rosendo (strikeout) were retired in order.

B6th (Shew): With a runner on via a single, the third out was secured on a 5-3 which was started by a great snag of a hard-hit ball by Montero.

T7th: The Cards offense continued to go down in order as Machado flied out to center, Martinez was retired on a 4-3 and Ortega whiffed swinging.

B7th (Champ Rowland): The converted infielder is a soft-tosser, but got the job done in a 1-2-3 opening inning.

T8th: Yet another three-up and three-down frame. Irving Wilson flied out, Murders was retired 4-3 and Rodriguez struck out looking.

B8th (Rowland): The leadoff man homered to left field. Astros 2-0.

T9th: Murders walked but was erased in the 4-6-3 in which Sanchez was injured. Talavera fanned to end a futile game for the White offense.

B9th (Dewin Perez): Even though the outcome was decided, the Cardinals had a pitcher yet to work. The lefty walked a batter with one out, but a fly ball to right ended the game as the runner was doubled off first base. Right fielder Sanel Rosendo made a strong throw.

In conclusion

My Player of the Day is Vince Jackson. The Red left fielder hit a two-run homer, singled and walked, but also fanned and hit into a double play. Hey! Nobody is perfect!

My Pitcher of the Day is also on the Red team. Yeison Medina threw three scoreless frames and logged my top velocity of the day at 93 mph.

Though Austin Wilson walked and scored, he deserves additional attention for two very strong throws from right field.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnationblog.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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