Well, we made it! Another off season is in the books, and after only a few days of official spring training, the story lines are coming fast and furious.
Certainly, things started on a disappointing note with the press conference from Chris Carpenter. With the shoulder troubles from last season coming back to haunt him, the 2013 season looks highly unlikely for the long-time ace. Still, Carp did what Carp does — refuse to give up.
Of course, that means a new spot is up for grabs in the rotation. With guys like Joe Kelly, Shelby Miller, and Lance Lynn all vying for a spot, the need to make big improvements is even greater. That’s a challenge our Wolf Pup didn’t take lightly. With a goal of improving his health and physical fitness in place, Lynn “took the bull by the horns” and showed up to came a significantly smaller, and (more importantly) stronger version of his 18-game-winning self.
Also trying to claim one of those five rotation spots is Shelby Miller. The youngster had some issues last season, but by the time he made his way to St. Louis as the heir-apparent, he’d sorted things out. (Who can forget the shutout he was working over on the Reds the last game of the regular season?) Last year, Miller showed up to camp shockingly slim … not what the doctors ordered. This year, though, he’s added the pound back on, and Derek Lilliquist is impressed. That’s a good start.
If you like a little rivalry action, how about these two video clips from Fox Sports Midwest? The Joe Kelly vs. Shelby Miller battle has begun. (Don’t worry, they’re really friends …)
One spot that shouldn’t be up for grabs in that rotation is that of Jaime Garcia. Much concern has been expressed about his condition and health this year, but if you ask him, he’s ready to go.
Perhaps of more concern is the fact that contract negotiations with now lone-ace Adam Wainwright have been pushed aside. Neither side is saying anything definitive, but it’s clear they’re not on the same page, or even close enough to discuss it further at this time.
While pitchers are the obvious story right now, there are a few other things developing early on at camp. Things like Matt Carpenter trying to earn his way into the second base battle. Or like John Mozeliak laying out his 2013 challenge — don’t get complacent. And, what we’ve all been waiting for, progress on Ballpark Village.
Or, if you’re more “visual,” just look at the pictures. Pictures and more pictures of real baseball things! Great, right?
And that’s only the first three days!
Tara is a St. Louis Cardinals reporter for Aaron Miles’ Fastball and a contributor to Around the Horn. Follow her on Twitter @tarawellman.