Does this year’s St. Louis Cardinals spring training seem never-ending to anyone else? I know the games started earlier to accommodate the World Baseball Classic, but it just seems endless and we are still 13 days from Opening Day.
Speaking of the World Baseball Classic, at least that has provided entertaining baseball and tonight is the championship game. Yadier Molina, Carlos Beltran and the rest of the Puerto Rican team will take on the Dominican Republic at 7 p.m. Central Time on MLB Network. This is the third time these two teams have met in this WBC, and the Dominican has won both games. (In fact, they’re a perfect 7-0 and could be the first team to go undefeated in the WBC.) Perhaps Puerto Rico was just waiting for the time it really counts to win?
Hopefully that’s the case. And Yadi continues to garner praise for his play and his leadership. Danny Knobler of CBS Sports wrote about him, as did Tyler Kepner of the New York Times. That piece, titled A Triumphant Show by the Artist Yadier Molina, includes this from Tony La Russa, who was at AT&T Park for Sunday’s game:
“He just doesn’t allow his team to lose,” La Russa said. “It’s entertainment at the highest level. He is so good, it’s amazing. You watch him the whole game, and he’s worth the price of admission.”
La Russa continued: “It’s not just instinct. It’s sense, based on how a hitter’s standing, how he responds to the pitch or two before, and he’s very creative in how he makes his adjustment based on what he sees with the hitter and knowing what his pitcher can do. That’s art.”
Moving on, there was an announcement of sorts yesterday regarding the shortstop position. Similar to the way Mike Matheny named Adam Wainwright the opening day starter, this one too came as no surprise, as Derrick Goold wrote:
Mike Matheny confirmed the obvious with the shortstop position: Pete Kozma will be the starter.
Matheny said the former first-round pick has performed well enough to make the club confident he can handle the everyday position.
“Make of that what you will,” Matheny said.
I’m not sure what to make of it, but hopefully that’s enough for the Cubs fans to quit laughing about Ronny Cedeno starting for the Cardinals since that obviously is not going to happen. He currently is in the mix for the backup position, but this doesn’t necessarily sound like a ringing endorsement from Matheny: “We’ll continue to watch him and see how he fits in.” [UPDATE: Cedeno doesn’t fit in at all — he was released after today’s game, much to the dismay of Cubs fans everywhere.]
Daniel Descalso started yesterday’s game at shortstop.
Did you know that Matheny now has a website and is on Twitter? Yes, it’s true. Here’s what Jenifer Langosch wrote:
Long an advocate for changing the culture of youth sports, manager Mike Matheny will now use social media platforms to disseminate his message.
Matheny has started a website — www.mikematheny.com — on which he will post blogs and video interviews related to his views on how to change that culture. In a welcome letter posted on his website, Matheny described his intention of creating the website as a way to bring children and parents “fresh information and videos … that will challenge and encourage coaches, parents and aspiring athletes to use sports as a platform to develop character, and skills that are needed for success on the field and off.”
His latest blog entry was posted yesterday and is about how things stand with two weeks until Opening Day.
Yesterday also brought a welcome visitor to Cardinals camp: Chris Carpenter. That’s all he was doing, visiting with his family as they were returning from a vacation in Puerto Rico as Jenifer Langosch wrote.
“I didn’t want it to be a big production,” Carpenter said Monday. “I just wanted to come and say hello and watch a few games, take [son] Sam to a couple games and enjoy Spring Training like we always have, except I’m not going to be on the field. They understand how hard it is when you want to be out there and you want to play, you want to pitch, but unfortunately can’t.”
There hasn’t been any change in the nerve issue, although — as Rick Hummel writes — “even in everyday life, such as driving his car or walking on the beach in Puerto Rico, Carpenter said he sometimes felt compromised now.”
Asked whether he still wanted to keep playing — and whether he could — Carpenter said, “I do. But I don’t think I can. That’s something that goes through my mind all the time.”
Carpenter does plan to be at Busch Stadium for the Cards home opener, and hopefully he will continue to be with the team. His teammates welcome that, as Daniel Descalso said:
Descalso said he understood how difficult it was for Carpenter to be in the clubhouse and not have his traditional corner locker — or any locker. “But I would hope he comes around during the season,” Descalso said.
“He means a lot to this team. We need that loud booming voice (in the dugout). He definitely could scream at opposing players — that intimidation factor, like a hockey enforcer,” said Descalso, laughing. “I’m sure he wouldn’t mind playing that role.”
Fans would welcome that too.
This afternoon, the Cardinals take on the Marlins and it’s another fifth starter battle. Shelby Miller will start the game, with Joe Kelly coming on in relief. Once again, it’s on Fox Sports Midwest as well — game time is 12:05 p.m. Central Time. It’s also KMOX Radio.
Christine Coleman is the lead St. Louis Cardinals reporter for Aaron Miles’ Fastball. Follow her on Twitter, @CColeman802, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Also follow @AMilesFastball for the latest updates.