Cardinals spring training news from Orlando

Brian Walton's notes from St. Louis Cardinals spring training action in Orlando, Florida.

Most of the St. Louis Cardinals on the bus to Orlando that left Jupiter at 7:45 am on Monday are returning that evening, with a second group of players arriving for Tuesday's game against the Astros at Kissimmee. Mike Matheny said this gives everyone one day or the other to "kick back". The manager noted the grind of the spring schedule and that the Cardinals do not have a day off until next week.

Three minor leaguers were rewarded with a trip to Orlando and suited up Monday: outfielder Nick Longmire (#91), second baseman Starlin Rodriguez (#98) and pitcher Justin Wright (#97).

Matheny meets with media
The manager and the staff will remain in the Orlando area overnight. This split squad (across two days) is one of the reasons Ryan Jackson is playing second base against the Braves. Matheny made it clear the plan is for Jackson to start at short every day for Memphis this season with Pete Kozma serving as a utility man.

I asked Monday's starter at first base, Matt Adams, if there has been any talk this spring of him playing outfield. His answer was definitive: "None."

Matheny said Chris Carpenter will be throwing again on Wednesday after throwing 40 pitches in his last workout. The manager noted that their original spring plan for Carpenter before the injury was for him to pitch in just 2-3 games. The implication is that opening day is not necessarily out of the question.

Skip Schumaker's NRI was scheduled Monday morning. No word yet on results. (Update: Details here.)

Mozeliak and Manno
Among those with the club in Orlando are general manager John Mozeliak and assistant general manager Mike Girsch. In the photo, Mo catches up with former St. Louis farm director Bruce Manno, currently Atlanta's assistant GM.

Matheny had some interesting comments about two pitchers who came to camp noticeably slimmer. Veteran Jake Westbrook was complimented for taking down his body fat and increasing his muscle mass.

On the other hand, the manager noted top prospect Shelby Miller "had a different body composition" this spring. Matheny seemed worried that a long season could show its effect when a player has lost muscle mass. The skipper said that during the winter, the Cardinals "sent someone out to make adjustments" in Miller's 2012 preparation plans.

(Miller has more work to do on the mound as well. He had an 8.31 ERA in major league camp and yielded four runs on seven hits against the Memphis lineup in minor league action on Sunday. Details here.)

There was a minor controversy before Monday's game as the Cardinals originally announced Bryan Anderson hitting ninth as their designated hitter. Apparently because the Braves did not want to use a DH, the decision reverted to NL rules and starting pitcher Lance Lynn batted. In his first at-bat, he watched five pitches, including a called strike three.

Lynn went four hitless innings before running into a bit of trouble immediately in the fifth. He yielded singles to Dan Uggla and Freddie Freeman and walked Eric Hinske. Lynn's fastball reached 93 mph with his off-speed offerings at 77-80 mph. He escaped the inning with just one run scored on a sac fly.

Earlier, in the top of the fourth, Matt Carpenter shot a two-run home run out to right. The wind was mild and blowing from left to right. In other words, the shot was not wind-aided. Carpenter continues to battle for a reserve infield spot.

Carlos Beltran greeted second Braves pitcher Julio Teheran with a line drive homer of his own to right-center leading off the sixth. Pinch-runner Erik Komatsu stole a base and scored on a one-hopper off the centerfield wall off the bat of Yadier Molina.

The Memphis coaching staff of new manager Pop Warner, pitching coach Blaise Ilsley and hitting coach Mark Budaska is still traveling with the major league club, though that is expected to change on Wednesday.

They will have more players in minor league camp to coach as Matheny told me on Monday morning that the next set of roster cuts from major league camp will occur after Tuesday's game.

Minor league releases

Back in Jupiter, the Cardinals released four minor league pitchers on Monday. They are one right-hander, Pete Parise, and three lefties, Sean Watson, Dan Calhoun and Jean Mijares.

Parise, 27, first joined the Cardinals organization when his contract was purchased from the Slippery Rock Sliders of the independent Frontier League in June 2007. The right-hander reached Memphis in 2009, where he was closer long enough to earn eight saves. An MLB camp invite in 2010 was tempered by shoulder surgery after 16 appearances with Memphis. Parise appeared in 40 games for the 2011 Redbirds, fanning 32 and walking 16 in 56 2/3 frames.

Calhoun, 25, finished last season with Palm Beach. He had moved up to Springfield for three weeks in July, but struggled in his first Texas League action. Double-A batters posted a .356 average against him as he allowed eight runs, five earned, including two home runs in 9 2/3 innings. The lefty was the 29th round selection of the Cardinals in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft.

The 6-foot-9 Watson was a tryout player last spring and earned a contract. The 24-year-old left-hander pitched in 19 games for short-season Batavia, all in relief. His ERA was 3.96 to go with a 20:9 strikeout to walk ratio in 36 1/3 innings.

Mijares, a 24-year-old native of Venezuela, actually never pitched in a regular season game as a Cardinal. He joined the organization in the minor league phase of the December 2010 Rule 5 draft from Minnesota, but missed the entire 2011 season due to injury.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Look for his weekly minor league content during the season at Follow Brian on Twitter.

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