Cardinals Fan’s Primer for Planet Jupiter

Does the snow have you ready to run away to somewhere warm? Are you dreaming of beaches, warm weather, and maybe Cardinals frolicking under palm trees?  Missing baseball so much it hurts worse than the icy wind blowing in your face? Wishing you could teleport yourself into those pictures coming out of Cardinals Camp? Thinking about actually joining them? You’re not alone!

As winter weather statements and advisories blow up my phone, I take solace in the fact that in about 4 weeks, I’ll make my 6th annual to pilgrimage to Jupiter, Florida and St. Louis Cardinals Spring Training. Mixed in with those incoming winter weather alerts have been messages from friends and acquaintances asking for information on to make the most of spring training. Just thinking about the answers warmed me and made me forget about the frosty forecast.

I’m not an expert on this, but I have picked up some useful information over the years. Tips on where to stay; how to navigate practices; purchase tickets to games; grab autographs; where to eat; and killing time when not watching baseball or laying on the beach.

While I’m not a travel agent, I do stay at a Holiday Inn Express. The Holiday Inn Express Juno Beach has been my spring training home every year. It is billed as “Oceanview”, but only a few rooms have that view and even from those, the view is limited. Personally, it’s not a big deal, there are rooms that overlook the pool if you must have water out your window. The Holiday Inn Express is a half block from the beach, so it is very close. Beach with kite IMG_2905Guests can grab a loaner beach chair from the front desk at no charge. If I’m not watching baseball, I’m on the beach. My friends have stayed at the Hampton Inn across the street from the Holiday Inn Express, and enjoyed it. Both hotels have breakfast included in the room rate and are about a 10-15 minute drive to Roger Dean Stadium and Cardinals baseball.

Let’s get to the real reason we find ourselves in South Florida in February/March: Baseball! St. Louis Cardinals Baseball! Roger Dean Stadium Roger Dean Stadium is located in an area called Abacoa. In addition to the baseball stadium and practice fields, Abacoa is home to restaurants, businesses and a large residential area. Street parking is available, but at a premium and there are restrictions (2 hour limit, etc), so watch for signs. There are also 2 parking garages fairly close to the Roger Dean complex.

The big leaguers practice on fields 1 & 6, behind the actual stadium. The players usually come out to the fields about 9:45 and practice until about 11:15/11:30.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA For a run down of practice, check with the security guys at the gate to the players parking lot (which is between the stadium and the practice fields). They usually have a sheet that shows the practice schedule for the day and which players will be where & when. Fields 1 and 6 are adjacent, so you can watch both fields without much walking. (Although, there is quite a bit of walking from the parking to the stadium/fields, so be prepared). There are bleachers available, but know that many people will be lined up along the fence to watch practice, so your view might be slightly blocked. Arriving around 9:00am will more than likely get you a spot along the fence, but know that you will be standing for a couple of hours and leaving your fence spot will probably result in forfeiture of said spot. Sometimes, after practice, a player or coach will come to the fence line and sign autographs. Hence, the high demand for that fence spot.

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Cardinals Haiku Wednesday: On Spring Games and Kolten Wong

There’s no prize for having the best record in spring training, no Grapefruit League or Cactus League championships. But, even with games that really aren’t important once March 31 arrives, it’s painful to look at the standings and see the St. Louis Cardinals at the bottom with only two wins to go with seven losses (and, though not listed, two ties).

MathenyEven with the small number of innings to skew things, looking at the pitching stats thus far is not terribly pleasant either. The hitting stats are a little better … until you really start looking at some of those toward the bottom.

Patience, right? It’s only March 12. Things will improve, because these are the Cardinals. They are talented. They have depth. They are the reigning National League champions. They’re good enough, they’re smart enough and, doggone it, people like them!

We like them!

Even when we get frustrated by them … which we sometimes do these days. Right?

But things can — and will — change. A week ago, we were all worried about Kolten Wong. Now look at him. Not that he’s at the top of those stats, and that’s OK. He’s improving. He’s relaxing. He’s doing back flips and being featured everywhere, with this story in the New York Times especially good. As is this one by Derrick Goold. Plus you can see his homer from yesterday in this story by Jenifer Langosch (which is not to say her story isn’t good, because it is as well).

With all of that, plenty of poetic fodder …

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Catching Up With the Cardinals: Monday Morning Edition

Ah, Monday morning … right after Daylight Saving Time begins. And just when we were beginning to enjoy the fact it was brightening up after 6 a.m. Patience is now needed again for the longer days ahead.

DiazAs you’ve probably read by now, the St. Louis Cardinals have signed 23-year-old Cuban free agent shortstop Aledmys Diaz to a four-year contract. There aren’t many details about it yet, as he’s scheduled to be introduced at a news conference this morning, but Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has some good info on what he calls “a landmark moment for the Cardinals. His will be the richest contract ever from the Cardinals for an international free agent or amateur, signaling their intent to reach beyond the Latin America amateur market they’ve cultivated.”

Joe Schwarz at Viva El Birdos also has been covering Diaz in-depth since he first worked out for the Cardinals several weeks ago.

Headed to Jupiter, Fla., to see the Cardinals spring training games at Roger Dean Stadium? Forbes reports that the Cardinals have the 10th most expensive spring training tickets, with an average price of $50. The teams with more expensive tickets, in order from 9 to 1: the Astros (perhaps surprisingly?), the Twins, the Phillies, the Cubs (which is perhaps not a surprise — have you seen there new spring home?), the Yankees, the Giants, the Rangers, the Braves (who train at Disney World) and, of course, the Red Sox with an average price of $79.

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Jhonny Peralta’s Big Spring Moment, Times Two

Yes, it was just a spring training game. No, it doesn’t count for anything.

Jhonny Peralta


Still, Jhonny Peralta hitting a home run yesterday on the first pitch to him from his former team, the Detroit Tigers, was pretty cool.

Hitting another homer in his second at-bat? Even more cool — even if it sounds like the wind helped that one a bit.

Baseball moments like that are great, no matter when (or how) they happen.

And especially when they happen in a game that’s a long bus ride away from Cards camp in Jupiter, Fla., as Andrew Simon writes at

Veterans with 11 years of Major League service, a new $53 million contract and a guaranteed spot in the lineup don’t make too many 150-minute bus rides to play in Spring Training games. Jhonny Peralta was an exception on Monday, and the cross-Florida trip proved to be well worth it.

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny suggested that his new shortstop go so that he could visit his former Tigers teammates and play in front of their fans after spending more than three seasons with the club. Peralta agreed, then went out and blasted two home runs off left-hander Drew Smyly in two plate appearances, hitting one out to left field and one to right.

“I feel really happy to be at home plate here and to face the Detroit Tigers,” Peralta said. “I was excited to hear the fans and everything. It made me excited to play today.”

As for the outcome of the game itself, well — remember that spring training games don’t count. Not every Cardinal had as good of a day as Jhonny did.

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Cardinals Haiku Wednesday: The Gang’s All Here

Once upon a time, three years ago, we loved writing poetry at Aaron Miles’ Fastball. Perhaps you’ve noticed the Poems for The Poet link on the home page (or not, which is fine) — yes, back in 2011, we wrote a poem every time Miguel “The Poet” Batista pitched. Most often they ended up being the type of tragic poetry filled with heartbreak teenage girls specialize in, but look at the subject we had. What else could we have written?

Then, when Barrett Browning made his major league debut in 2012, the poetic tributes had a short-lived revival thanks to his lyrical name. Every once in a while too some on-field happening just begged to be captured via verse, and last season as well.

That was all in the past.

And maybe this long, cold, snowy, never-ending winter is to blame. but we really could use some poetry around here again. Right?

Thus, Cardinals Haiku Wednesday.

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Spring Is In The Air

Derrick Goold warmed the hearts of many a cold St. Louis Cardinals fan Friday!

Dgoold tweet

That’s right! Joe Kelly, Adam Wainwright and Shelby Miller are three of several Cardinals who arrived to Spring Training camp in Jupiter, Florida, a little early to get a head start on their workouts.

Pitching coach Derek Lilliquist worked with Kelly, Waino and Miller along with a still-rehabbing Jason Motte and a recuperating Jaime Garcia. Seth Maness and Kevin Siegrist also threw some.

Tony Cruz and Yadier Molina were also around to catch bullpen sessions and take some batting practice.

Check out this story by Goold discussing a little amphibious friend Wainwright made today.

Miranda is a contributor to Aaron Miles’ Fastball. You may follow her on Twitter, @missmiranda! 

Catching Up With the Cardinals: Crazy Cold (Again) Edition

It’s Monday and the polar vortex is back again — but there are now only more 16 days until the Cardinals pitchers and catchers report to Jupiter for spring training. We can handle it, right?

Here’s a look at some interesting Cardinal tidbits you might have missed.

st_louis_cardinals_wallpaper-29831Last night was the annual Missouri Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Springfield. Mo. Among the honorees: Willie McGee. Read more about that here.

If you missed last week’s announcement of MLB’s top 100 prospects, check out the Cardinals on the list at Cardinals Farm. Then check back at Cardinals Farm starting tomorrow as John’s countdown of the Cardinals top 50 prospects gets under way.

Continuing the minor league theme, you probably saw the news last week of those who are non-roster invitees to spring training. Here’s a look at how Casey Rasmus’s hometown paper in Columbus, Ga., covered his invite.

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Spring Training Radio, TV Broadcast Schedules Announced

One step closer … and, once spring training does arrive, we’ll have more chances than ever to actually see and hear the Cardinals in action. Nearly all of their games will be on FOX Sports Midwest and the Cardinals Radio Network.

Roger Dean StadiumFOX Sports Midwest will televise an all-time-high 15 spring training games in 2014, one of the largest spring broadcast schedules in MLB. FOX Sports Midwest’s live spring training coverage has jumped from five games in 2012 to 10 in 2013 and 15 in 2014. The television home of the Cardinals kicks off its live game coverage on Friday, Feb. 28, when the Cardinals open Grapefruit League play vs. Miami at Roger Dean Stadium. That will be the first of six games against the Marlins.

The television schedule also features visits by the Red Sox, Mets, Twins, Tigers, Braves and Nationals. In addition, ESPN will broadcast the game at Boston on Monday, March 17.  FOX Sports Midwest will replay each spring training telecast that night.

As in years past, veteran broadcasters Mike Shannon and John Rooney will broadcast 18 games on the team’s flagship station KMOX (AM 1120) and the Cardinals Radio Network, including the Cardinals’ exhibition game against the Memphis Redbirds at AutoZone Park in Memphis on Friday, March 28.

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