When John Gast had July 2013 surgery to repair a left shoulder tear, he was advised that it would likely be eight to 12 months before he could resume pitching. What he didn't know at the time, however, was that the road to feeling completely right would take much longer.
After having a first wave of pitchers throw live batting practice -- or, as the Cardinals now prefer to call it, pitching practice -- on Wednesday, a different group of 13 pitchers took the mound Thursday to face hitters for the first time this spring.
Adam Wainwright's visit to a St. Louis-area specialist Thursday brought some relief to Cardinals camp, as they learned soon after that the staff ace is dealing with an abdominal strain that should not keep him from being ready for the season opener on April 5.
Wednesday marked the first time in a decade that the Cardinals held their first full-squad workout with a fairly clear idea of the eight position players who, barring injury, will take the field on Opening Day. Nevertheless, the Cardinals are still pushing the competition card.
It is customary before the first full-squad workout each spring for the Cardinals' manager to gather players and staff into the clubhouse and officially open spring with a message that sets the tone for the season ahead. This year, however, the meeting was also tinged with reflection.
At the first full-squad workout of 2015 the Cardinals had 13 pitchers throw batting practice for the first time in camp. Position players rotated through so that each had an opportunity to track live pitches.
Following a year that he describes as "the most frustrating thing I've ever gone through," Kevin Siegrist found himself a bit too amped up as he stepped onto the mound Wednesday to face hitters for the first time this spring. Consider it a welcomed byproduct of feeling right again.
With the Astros and Nationals moving forward with plans to construct a Spring Training complex in nearby West Palm Beach, Fla., the Cardinals are preparing to open discussions with city and county officials about making improvements to their Roger Dean Stadium facility.
When manager Mike Matheny gathers his players for the first full team meeting of Spring Training on Wednesday, he plans to deliver a message that will reflect on the one missing from the group. It will be the first time that the entire team has been back together under the same clubhouse roof since their teammate, Oscar Taveras, died in late October.
The Cardinals held their final pitchers-and-catchers-only practice on Tuesday -- and it was an abbreviated one. With all 26 pitchers having already thrown two bullpen sessions, the Cardinals kept all of them off the mound for a day and instead set up a rotation of defensive drills and mobility work.
Mark Reynolds will open the season among six hitters with at least 20 home runs in each of the last seven seasons. However, he is the only one preparing this spring without the guarantee of a starting job.
The recent graduation to the big leagues of Kolten Wong, Carlos Martinez and Marco Gonzales has thinned the number of prospects on the cusp of making the parent club. However, Gonzales still has rookie eligibility and others loom as candidates to help the Cardinals if needed this coming season.
Watching video of Game 3 in the NLCS in the same Sacramento home where he had spent the hours after that throw, Cardinals reliever Randy Choate tried to let go of a moment that he doesn't believe should define his career but, in the same breath, still hold to it. That's because it's changed him.
Though unlikely to appear behind the plate in actual Grapefruit League games, infielders Pete Kozma and Greg Garcia are targeted to get some work this spring in preparation for serving as potential emergency catchers for the Cardinals this season.
As reliever Matt Belisle took the mound on Sunday for his second bullpen session of Cardinals camp, he directed new teammate Adam Wainwright keep a watchful eye. The exercise is one done routinely by St. Louis pitchers during these early spring days, when a tipping pitches station is included in their workout rotation.
As prospect Alex Reyes readied to throw on Sunday, the Cardinals staff realized that the catchers were all occupied on another field. That didn't slow anything down, however, as manager Mike Matheny grabbed a catcher's mask and squatted back at his old position to play receiver.
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