Today’s final day of the Warm-Up was the one I was looking forward to the most, given the (if you’ll forgive the pun) lineup. Believe it or not, even Yadier Molina showed up! Just like the last two days, there was a hunger for this season, an excitement that had some guys tripping over their words. How about some quotes?
“Nothing’s guaranteed. I want to win a job, no matter what that is.”
“I’m really excited about the talent and veteran leadership…coming off of two back-to-back postseason runs. We’re just scratching the surface of what this club could do.”
“It really is a blessing to be part of such a great organization.”
“I really love playing here, there’s no doubt about that. Playing here, the fans support you. It’s a great feeling–makes everything easy.”
“At the end of the day, if you play well you’ll be out there…if you’re not productive at the plate, you’d better be producing in the field.”
“Playing here, you’re expected to be in the postseason.”
About Mike Matheny:
“He wants to win as bad as everybody–that guy was born to lead baseball players.”
“Consistency is what you want to bring to the table…I want to make plays however I can get it done.”
“The goal coming into this year is to win the division.”
“We’re packed with power arms.”
About Mike Matheny:
“Mike, he’s a player’s manager–when something needs to be said, he’ll say it. What he says has depth.”
Hitting coach John Mabry:
“You can never have too many Molinas on your team.”
About Stan Musial:
“He was a class act and the epitome of a great baseball player. He is what a Cardinal should be.”
As Mabry has had a few more years with the organization than most of the players interviewed, he did have an anecdote about The Man to share with us.
Years ago, Stan was throwing out the first pitch of a game which Mabry was able to catch. As he went towards the mound for the traditional autograph and photo op, Stan said to Mabry, “You know, you’re my grandson’s favorite Cardinal.” Mabry, taken aback, replied with, “Has he seen the back of your baseball card?” The picture taken that day was later signed by Stan, who wrote “To a great Cardinal.” You could see the raw emotion on Mabry’s face as he told us how much it meant to him to be called a great Cardinal by the greatest Cardinal. I’m sure he’ll never forget that day.
This season is coming rapidly. Pitchers and catchers will report before we know it. Though it will be just a little different (or maybe a lot different) without Our Man there, there will not be a lack of hunger, of fire, of determination on the part of the players and the organization to take this team to the postseason. Like so many said this weekend, it’s what’s expected.
This is the Cardinals way.