St. Louis Cardinals: First Spring Game in ONE Week!

Feb 17, 2017; Jupiter, FL, USA; St. Louis Cardinals players run during spring training drills at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 17, 2017; Jupiter, FL, USA; St. Louis Cardinals players run during spring training drills at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /

T-minus seven days until the first game of spring training. Who should the St. Louis Cardinals send out on the diamond for this first game?

The St. Louis Cardinals are finally back. Well, technically back. I, for one, am very excited that the winter of my discontent (aka the season between the final game of the World Series and the first report of pitchers and catchers) has come to an end. I, for one, am also excited for the first game of spring.

Let’s all admit that this first game carries little-to-no weight in the overall scheme. Or does it? Often we fans disregard the early games of spring, but I feel that we have much to watch in these early games. I intend to tell you why in this post.

If you want to know more about the spring games to be broadcast, jump over to my earlier post on the approaching spring here.

So who should the St. Louis Cardinals send on the diamond in the first game? There should definitely be a balance of prospects and pros for many reasons. One reason is clearly to celebrate the excellence that is on the team and the other is to allow prospects to show what they’ve got.

Noting this then, I would not be surprised to see the likes of Matt Carpenter, Aledmys Diaz, Stephen Piscotty, and Randal Grichuk receive one at-bat and at least one inning in the field.

Oh and don’t burn a effigy of me for not mentioning the great Dexter Fowler. Trust me, I believe he will lead off in game one this spring. The fans and press will be chomping at the bit (as the saying goes) to see him wearing red and to see him take the plate and field for one turn each.

On the mound, I would not be surprised to see either Lance Lynn or Michael Wacha climb the small hill for game one. Both of these pitchers need to show what they’ve got. Having said that, I wouldn’t be surprise (equally) if Lynn is NOT the pitcher to climb the hill since he is coming off of injury.

Likewise, I wouldn’t be surprised if the St. Louis Cardinals wanted to send out Trevor Rosenthal to see what he could do with two-to-three innings of no-stress starting pitching. This is what I would do.

Of the regular starters, I would not be surprised to NOT see Jhonny Peralta or Yadier Molina appear in game one. Both of these aging players will benefit greatly by serving as bench managers for the game. I just don’t see much value in sending them out in the first game. Knowing Mike Matheny though, we could well see them and see them being overused. I hope this is not the case, but…

The real excitement of the early games of spring, and specifically the first game, is watching the young prospects and non-roster invitees attempt to show what they’ve got.

To this end, then, I hope that after one inning in the field and one at-bat, the outfield is replaced by the likes of Tommy Pham, Todd Cunningham, and Jose Martinez. All three of these names need to prove whether they are the fourth outfielder or not.

In the same fashion, I hope we get to see Jedd Gyorko play third base and/or second and/or first in at least one inning and one at-bat.

I hope we get to see Kolten Wong rest or, if he must take an at-bat, I hope he leaves the bat on his shoulder and simply watches the pitches. Why? I think Wong would benefit this season from more plate discipline and early this spring should become incredibly selective of the pitches against which he swings.

More from St Louis Cardinals News

I hope that prospects like Greg Garcia and Breyvic Valera are offered multiple innings on the infield and multiple at-bats. Likewise, I would love for Cardinals Nation to have the chance to see Jordan Schafer take a few innings in the outfield, and heck, even a batter or two on the mound. As exciting as that would be, I wonder too if unveiling that “secret” this early would be a mistake.

Speaking of the mound, I hope that game one, one week from today, will feature Austin Gomber and Ryan Sherriff.  Along those lines too then, I wouldn’t mind seeing Mike Mayers receive a few innings to show faith in him despite his struggles last season. Like Rosenthal before, I think the no-stress early-spring is a great place for Mayers.

Look, I’m not the manager and I’m sure I’m extremely wrong in these expectations. Matheny will likely send out too many players with whom he has a man-crush and bromance. Nevertheless, I love spring games and am extremely excited for the games to start one week from today.

Next: Five Possible Pitching Replacements to Reyes

Are you excited for games to start? Do you get to catch the spring games via telecasts and/or radio? Let’s talk about them on Twitter. Thanks for reading and GO CARDINALS!