SPRING TRAINING GAME 1: Fish That Got Away Ray February 23, 2013 Game Recap Baseball officially returned today, as the Cardinals stretched out in their first exhibition game against their Roger Dean Stadium roommates the Miami Marlins. Despite using a large majority of their major league lineup, the Cardinals failed to capitalize on eight walks as the Marlins whipped the Redbirds 8-3. THE GREAT » Eduardo Sanchez returned to the spotlight after virtually disappearing last season, and what an impression he made! Sanchez blasted through the Marlins in the seventh, allowing no runs and, more importantly, no walks while striking out two. Is he back to reclaim his promise as the Sanchezinator? It would make one hell of a story if he did. » The buzz surrounding 2012 draftee Michael Wacha had already reached a fever pitch by the time he took the mound in the third inning. After his performance today, I doubt the buzz will be dying down for a while. Wacha was awesome, composed and collected as he tossed two innings and collected three strikeouts. He gave up an unearned run (on a David Freese error), but his stuff today indicates he’ll be major league ready sooner than later. Exciting! THE GOOD » Matt Adams impressed today with a 2-4 day and two RBIs. He also lacerated a ball for an out in the eighth. Any doubts about Adams returning with some value after his season-ending surgery were swiftly put aside by his big bat today. It’s really a shame that the kid is blocked with this team. Hopefully Mozeliak can parlay Adams’ value into a beneficial trade soon. » David Freese ripped a home run in his first at-bat of the spring in two plate appearances. This is the year Freese needs to demonstrate increased and more consistent production. » I liked seeing Jon Jay‘s aggressive approach on the bases today. He was on base twice (a hit and a walk) and attempted two steals (one steal, one caught-stealing). He’s clearly making a case to be this team’s leadoff hitter, and we need him to set this kind of tone at the top of this offense. THE FRUSTRATING » Several Cardinal relievers who figure to shape the 2013 major league bullpen flopped today in their debuts. Trevor Rosenthal looked particularly bad, getting hammered for five hits, two walks, and four runs in just two innings. Randy Choate also spoiled his Cardinal debut with an earned run in the fifth. Victor Marte also looked ineffective in the eighth (one inning, two hits, one earned run) aside from one incredible off-speed pitch, probably the single best pitch he has thrown as a Cardinal. » The offense sputtered most of the afternoon. Particularly troubling was the inability to convert eight walks into significant offense. It looks like this might continue to be an ongoing problem from last season. » Already-legendary prospect Oscar Taveras made his eagerly-awaited hitting debut, and he went 0-2 with four runners left on base. It could’ve been much different, however: Taveras nearly cranked a three-run triple seventh. He was robbed on an excellent play by Christian Yelich at the wall. Baby steps … baby steps… CONCLUSION It’s really early, obviously, and so much figures to change in the coming weeks. It was nice to get a long look at some of the young arms fighting for a place on this team, and some aspects of the offense (particularly Adams and Jay) gave some hope for the immediate future.