Our long national baseball nightmare is over. This afternoon Cardinal Nation got its first glimpse of most of our 2014 St. Louis Cardinals. Though the Redbirds lost to the Marlins 5-4, the loss was nothing compared to the excitement felt about a new season of Cardinal baseball, with all the anticipation that comes with that.
Feb 15, 2014; Jupiter, FL, USA; St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina (4) during spring training at Roger Dean Stadium. Image Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Spring Training baseball in no way compares to the regular season. Starters play sparingly for the first few weeks, and pitchers don’t pitch to the levels they normally would in games that count. We see lots and lots of young kids who won’t make the big league club, but give us an enticing view of the future. This is my favorite part about Spring Training baseball; I have 6 months to see my big league favorites, but only this short window to see those players that I don’t normally see. Watching guys like Stephen Piscotty, Randal Grichuk, Patrick Wisdom, Marco Gonzales, and others is a treat for me.
Today we saw Yadier Molina play DH, a position he will likely play quite a bit in the next few weeks, as Mike Matheny seeks to save Yadi’s knees and use him sparingly behind the plate. Yadi came roaring out of the gate, metaphorically speaking, going 2 for 3 . One of our new Cardinals, Peter Bourjos, hit a hot shot over the raised glove of the Marlins shortstop, for his first hit and RBI as a Cardinal. We didn’t get to see Bourjos’ much heralded defense, but that is something that I am sure we will be treated to for many games to come. Matt Adams came through with a hit and an RBI, and in the final inning of the game, minor league third baseman Patrick Wisdom hit a 2 run home run to bring the final score to 5-4.
Pitching wise, Carlos Martinez started the game for the Cardinals. Although Martinez threw one bad pitch to Garrett Jones that resulted in a 2 run home run, otherwise Martinez looked sharp. Tyler Lyons followed with 2 innings of scoreless pitching, but 2012 first round pick Marco Gonzales struggled in this first outing, giving up 2 earned runs and walking three. Keith Butler and Jorge Rondon followed with scoreless outings, and newcomer Pat Neshek ended with an inning in which he gave up one earned run on two hits.
Tomorrow Lance Lynn starts for the Cardinals in another game against the Marlins. Michael Wacha follows on Sunday against the Mets. The Cardinals hit the buses to travel to Lakeland to play the Tigers on Monday, with Joe Kelly starting. After an off day on Tuesday, the Cardinals play the 2013 World Champion Red Sox on Wednesday in Jupiter, Shelby Miller on the mound. On Thursday, the Cardinals travel to Fort Myers to meet the Twins, where Adam Wainwright will start.
It’s good to have baseball again. Despite the threat of an impeding March snowstorm, Spring Training baseball serves as a welcome balm to the soul and the hope of Spring and Opening Day to follow.
Bring it on.