February 23rd, the “Official” Start to Spring Training

By:  Jim Tsapelas

Jason O. Watson/Getty Images North America

February 23rd, the “Official” start to Spring Training.  All sixty-one invitees to the Cardinals’ Spring Training complex in Jupiter, Florida, reported Monday and all are present and accounted for.  This includes the Cardinals’ Forty Man Roster and twenty-one non-roster invitees.

For some, this is a dream come true.  For others it will be a fight, a dog fight, to earn a spot on the Cardinals’ MLB or one of the Redbirds’ MiLB rosters.  Others may see and realize their dream of a being or becoming a professional baseball player die and come to a lifeless end.

Of the thirty pitchers in camp, Tyler Waldron, a non-roster invitee, has been shut down indefinitely; according to Cardinals’ manager Mike MathenyWaldron, 26, is the first pitching causality of the Spring. Matheny reported Waldron has an impingement affecting his right shoulder.  The right-handed hurler spent five years in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization.  In 2015 he made forty-six appearances for the Cardinals’ Triple-A affiliate.  At Memphis last season Waldron was 4-6 with a 4.74 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP over seventy-six innings.

Odds and Ends of Spring Training:

Right-handed pitcher, Carlos Martinez, was the only pitcher to throw off the mound on Monday.  Martinez who spent considerable time on the MLB DL last season said he is throwing at about eighty percent.  A right-shoulder injury ended Martinez’s 2015 campaign early in September.  This Spring he has been taking two days off between bullpen sessions, rather than the usual one day.  Martinez threw around twenty-five pitches off the mound on Monday.

Matt Holliday, who self initiated working out at first-base prior to the official start of Spring workouts, worked with infield coach Jose Oquendo, on Monday.  Oquendo had Holliday picking balls in the dirt and working on his footwork.  It is doubtful Holliday will see much if any action at first during the Grapefruit or Regular Season.

Brandon Moss is challenging Matt Adams for the starting first-baseman position.  Whatever the outcome, Moss and Adams are capable of hitting twenty home runs each during the regular season.

Yadier Molina will most probably be handled with a watchful eye and much care as his left thumb continues to heal.  Brayan Pena, the back-up catcher designate, is an offensive up-grade over former back-up Tony Cruz, now with the World Champions Kansas City Royals.  Molina has publicly stated he will be ready by Opening Day.  This remains to be seen.  It is quite conceivable the Cardinals may break camp with three catchers to begin the 2016 season.

The Cardinals’ starting five, Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, Jamie Garcia, Carlos Martinez, and newcomer Mike Leake, are as good of a rotation in all MLB.  The Bullpen, featuring the Cardinal closer Trevor Rosenthal, with the addition of Seung Hwan Oh, and the return of a healthy Jordan Walden is quite arguably one of the Cardinals’ best Bullpen’s in recent years.

Expect the Cardinals to once again to contend for the 2016 NL Central Divisional Title.  The first game of the 2016 Grapefruit League is slated for a 12:05 starting time on March 3rd, when the Miami Marlins meet the Cardinals at Roger Dean Stadium.

Thanks for reading!

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