Spring training has only just begun, but Nolan Arenado seems to be fitting in with the St. Louis Cardinals well.
In 2019, the St. Louis Cardinals pulled superstar first baseman Paul Goldschmidt away from the only team he’d ever known. Two years later, Goldschmidt is helping another player, Nolan Arenado, go through the same transition. Early reports say it is going well.
On Monday, Nolan Arenado did his first spring training media session as a member of the Cardinals.
While the 22nd was the first day that all players were due to report, Arenado has been in Jupiter since the middle of last week.
The full interview is here, but the Cardinals tried to welcome in Arenado by first surrounding him with players he knew already. Goldschmidt, a longtime Diamondback, knows Arenado well from the many years they played against each other. Matt Carpenter, the player who’s spot Arenado will be occupying, has vacationed with the third baseman. On the first day of team workouts, these three were in a hitting group together.
On getting here early, Arenado said, “I thought it was really important to get here early.” This may have been mostly because of the three-hour time difference between his native California and Florida, but also he mentioned he wanted to acclimate himself to the Cardinals’ spring facility.
Arenado was also asked about what his initial impressions were of the Cardinals’ way of operating. “There hasn’t been any surprises, obviously the intensity has been great, the hard work, the coaches are all locked in. It’s been really cool.” Arenado followed this up with, “I’ve been really excited, I like it so far.” First impressions aren’t everything, but when a player with opt-outs like Arenado comes in, it’s great to get things off on the right foot.
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One of the biggest resulting questions after Arenado was brought in was about how he would impact the future of the Cardinals’ top third base prospect, Nolan Gorman. On the subject, Arenado mentioned that he had already gone golfing with Gorman after being in the same workout group as him for the first couple of days.
Even though Gorman is making a move off of third base, this kind of leadership and mentorship from Arenado right away is a huge thing for the organization. Gorman being coachable is a great sign for him as well. Fans knew coming in that Arenado was a leader, we just didn’t know what it would look like and this is fantastic to see.
One phrase that Arenado repeated a lot of times during this nine-minute interview was, “talking the game.” For Arenado, it seems like this is one way that he gets to know the players around him. It also shows just how locked into the sport he is.
Nothing in the interview was particularly world-breaking, but just like Arenado is getting to know St. Louis, St. Louis needs to get to know him. Him enjoying things right away and seeing his leadership and obsession with the game is a great look into who Arenado is as a person and a competitor.
Arenado has gone on record to say that the chances he opts out after this year or next are very low right now, but making him happy is still important. For now, it seems like what makes him happy will make everyone happy: winning games and making the postseason.