Optimism is already growing at St. Louis Cardinals spring training, and for good reason.
Spring Training is known for many things. Hearing that players are in the best shape of their lives. Hearing the sound of a baseball hitting the catchers mitt at 95-plus mph. But most importantly, it is the sign of renewed optimism for teams hopeful of making a playoff push.
The same can be said for the St. Louis Cardinals, with president of baseball operations John Mozeliak telling reporters that, “One of the things I can tell you is that the anticipation for the start of today is very real. It’s still exciting for everybody that is down here.”
Some of that, of course, has to do with the COVID-19 pandemic. There was considerable optimism that spring training would start on time, though no one was totally sure given the unpredictable nature of the virus. But as the vaccine has been distributed, and as cases have widely decreased in recent weeks, it became a near certainty that it would start on time.
For the Cardinals, however, most of their optimism has to do with the addition of Nolan Arenado. The moment the franchise acquired him, the narrative regarding an uninspiring offseason quickly shifted toward the team entering the World Series picture.
Players have talked about the significance of the addition. Rival executives have laughed at the Rockies for accepting such a low offer from the Cardinals. On Tuesday, manager Mike Shildt joined in on the party — but kept his answer relatively subdued, though his excitement was clearly noticeable.
“I understand St. Louis is a lot of warm and fuzzy even in a cold temperature right now,” said manager Mike Shildt. “For a lot of reasons, including Nolan. … He’s a pillar to what we’re doing as far as being strong on both sides of the baseball. And he also is a high-character guy that is super dedicated about winning and loves the game of baseball. He’s going to fit right in.”
Tuesday marked the day pitchers and catchers reported to spring training. For the Cardinals, it perhaps began a run that they hope doesn’t end until they lift up the World Series trophy.