Seven days out from their Opening Night matchup against the Cubs, the Cardinals continue to weigh the various ways in which they could construct their roster because of the flexibility offered by a high concentration of early-season off-days.
Jaime Garcia, speaking a day after the club announced he'd be scratched from his next scheduled spring start, said he has been feeling left arm soreness and fatigue over the last few days, including during a side session on Thursday. When the discomfort didn't subside, Garcia alerted the Cardinals' medical staff.
Despite needing 40-plus pitches to navigate through his first two innings, Lance Lynn looked sharp against a fairly formidable Tigers lineup in his second start of the spring and ended up finishing five innings with a pitch count of 81.
His roster status complicated by being an out-of-options player, lefty Sam Freeman, a 32nd-round draftee of the Cardinals in 2008, was traded to the Rangers on Saturday in exchange for cash considerations or a player to be named later.
After using his first two spring starts to focus on specific pitches, John Lackey met with catcher Yadier Molina on Friday morning, asking him to call the game as he would in the regular season. What followed was a seven-inning performance from Lackey that the Cardinals would certainly take in such a setting.
If Friday was indeed the final chance for Carlos Martinez to make his case to the Cardinals that he should earn the final spot in their rotation, the right-hander went out with a flourish, closing with what he considered his best outing of the spring.
Outfielder Rafael Ortega went 2-for-22 in Grapefruit League play before the Cardinals sent him out to Minor League camp as part of their most recent wave of cuts on Monday. He returned on Friday and made the impression that he probably wished he could have made sooner.
Right-hander Carlos Martinez made his case in the competition for the final spot in the Cardinals' rotation during Friday's 1-1 tie with the Nationals. Martinez allowed one run on five hits in five innings while striking out six and walking two.
With manager Mike Matheny accompanying half the club to Viera, Fla., for the road portion of Friday's split-squad day, bench coach David Bell slid into the manager's seat for the home game against the Mets. Given his own coaching climb and bloodlines, it's an undertaking that suited Bell well.
Hours after his manager laughed off concern about Jason Heyward not yet having registered an extra-base hit this spring, the right fielder blasted his first -- all the way onto the porch of the team complex beyond the right-field wall.
Adam Wainwright had very specific goals going into his penultimate start of the spring on Thursday. And he left the complex confident he had accomplished them -- even if it had happened mostly outside the public eye.
Giancarlo Stanton blasted a home run and tacked on an RBI double on Thursday as the Marlins edged the Cardinals, 5-3, at Roger Dean Stadium. The Miami slugger connected for the second time this spring, unloading a mammoth drive off Adam Wainwright in the first inning.
Cardinals radio broadcaster Mike Shannon, who has been watching the club throughout Spring Training, shared his thoughts on what he has seen over the past month and provided his take on what to expect in the year ahead.
Michael Wacha, like most players, doesn't concern himself much with Spring Training statistics. That is, except for one. "One I look at," he admitted, "is walks." Wacha has to like what he's seeing these days from that stat line
Cardinals right-hander Michael Wacha and Nationals Opening Day starter Max Scherzer were engaged in a terrific pitchers' duel to start Wednesday's matchup at Roger Dean Stadium, before the Cards broke through in the eighth inning for a 1-0 victory.
Inspired by a drill that he saw at a University of Miami football practice, Jon Jay prepared for this season with the assistance of a tennis-ball machine. He wasn't the only Cardinals player to employ the unique resource, either.
Tough decisions are good decisions. Tough decisions mean that the players didn't settle things for you by blowing out their elbows or striking out every trip to the plate or injuring themselves sneezing. Tough decisions mean all those things you liked about these guys on paper are here now, in real life, and it's your job to decide what to do with them. If things continue as is, the Cardinals are going to have an awfully tough decision to make at the back of their rotation.
Before the opening of Grapefruit League play, there were seven big questions the Cardinals needed to answer during the 28-game spring slate. Nearly three weeks in, the club has already crossed some of those off the list. Others still require clarity. With the Cardinals enjoying their final off-day of Spring Training before the push to Opening Day, it seems appropriate to revisit those seven questions.
Without the benefit of drafting near the top of the first round for years, the Cardinals have been annual playoff participants for the past four seasons, making it at least to the National League Championship Series each time with typically the most homegrown roster of all the playoff teams.
Following four years, eight months and eight days as an active officer, and another two trying to rediscover himself in the Minors, Lieutenant Mitchell Andrew Harris finds himself on the cusp of becoming the first graduate of the Naval Academy in 94 years -- and only the second ever -- to appear in a Major League Baseball game.
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