SPRING TRAINING GAME 2: All Hands On Deck
With the bats still in warm-up mode, Mike Matheny decided to throw everybody out against Jon Lester and the Boston Red Sox. Despite a warm, sunny afternoon and a packed home crowd at Roger Dean Stadium, the Cardinals fell without much of a fight 5-3.
» Daniel Descalso pounded his first home run of the spring off of Joel Hanrahan to cut the lead to 2-1 in the fifth. With his starting job on the line and questions about his production swirling all winter, Descalso needs to do more like this. In addition to his typically-low batting average, Descalso rarely drives the ball like this. If he wants the starting job, he needs to start producing more at-bats like this one featuring extra-base pop.
» Speaking of the starting second base job, Descalso’s rival Matt Carpenter refuses to lay down and surrender. Carpenter went 2-4 today with a double. Yesterday I was looking at some of Carpenter’s numbers and was surprised at his extra-base power. He flashed it again today. It’s going to be tough to keep him out of the lineup.
» Rookie sensation Oscar Taveras managed his first hit of the spring, a double in the fifth. Still, he went 1-4 with a key strikeout with a runner on base. Anyone thinking this kid needs to be starting on Opening Day should take a deep breath. He’s still a work in progress, not Jesus.
» The relievers we are counting on for the major league roster showed some impressive stuff. Both Fernando Salas and Edward Mujica had scoreless innings of work. Also impressive was rookie lefthander Tyler Lyons; he pitched two scoreless innings and gave up just one hit against two strikeouts. Lyons will likely start the season at Memphis (where he worked last season), but the 25 year-old Texan had a nice debut in front of the major league staff.
» The Cardinals turned a successful double play with the questionable middle infield combination of Matt Carpenter, Ronny Cedeno, and Big Ty Wigginton. Haters gonna hate, I guess, but it’ll take a few more such miracles before I become a believer in this configuration.
» Another day, another steal attempt. While it was unsuccessful (Carpenter was caught stealing second), I like the early aggressiveness shown by Matheny and the gang. Of course, they ran a lot during the first month of last year before becoming hopelessly addicted to the bunt. Hopefully Matheny is learning his lesson.
» Sam Freeman looked bad in his spring debut. All of the talk about additional pitches didn’t seem to help his repertoire, as he endured a tough one inning of work in which he gave up two hits, a walk, and two earned runs. I really like this kid’s fastball and his motion … I sure wish he’d get it together.
» John Gast struggled in two innings to earn the loss today. The 24 year-old Memphis rookie was roughed up for four hits and two earned runs to start the game. Gast probably had no chance to make the ML roster, and projects as more of a Westbrook in the rotation anyway. Still, I’m sure the kid is heartbroken about his performance today, which will probably set him back in the pipeline.
Nobody likes losing, but the positives outweigh the negatives as the various parts of the roster get some work. In the early going it looks like Matheny is doing a nice job of giving everybody an opportunity. There remain many questions to be answered in the coming weeks.