Marlins 5, Cardinals 4
Click here to go to the Cardinals.com notebook, which has updates on Oscar Taveras, Jaime Garcia and instant replay protocol.
Click here to go to the Cardinals.com feature on Carlos Martinez, who began to build his case for a rotation spot.
Click here to read the game recap and see the box score.
Some other players and performances to highlight from today’s Grapefruit League opener:
Patrick Wisdom had already endeared himself to half of the Cardinals’ clubhouse on Wednesday, when he delivered a walk-off home run that kept his teammates from having to perform clubhouse chores. That blast came in a coach-pitch game.
On Friday, he smoked one off of Marlins reliever Sam Dyson.
“A bomb,” manager Mike Matheny called it afterward. Admitted Wisdom, “That was a good one.”
Wisdom, less than two years removed from being a first-round pick (No. 52), has opened a lot of eyes in the organization already. And that was even before he started showing off his power in Spring Training.
“He’s a strong kid,” Matheny said of the third baseman. “He did his work this winter and is continuing to get stronger. He has a nice short approach at the plate. That’s what you’re supposed to do – not necessarily hit home runs – but you’re supposed to make people sit up and take notice. It’s hard not to notice that.”
Wisdom spent the offseason working out with Allen Craig, as the two live about 10 minutes apart in southern California. Craig initiated the partnership by inviting Wisdom to join him. Wisdom continues to follow Craig’s lead down here in Florida and cited Matt Carpenter and Pete Kozma as two others who have taken time to also invest in his development.
“Learn as much as possible,” Wisdom said when asked about his spring goals. “I know that’s cliché, but we have All-Star guys in here, MVPs and a good coaching staff. I’m just trying to learn as much as possible before the season starts. These guys have made it and they’ve stayed up there. … I think this is a good clubhouse to be a part of. There’s a little separation because they’re Major Leaguers, but they intertwine us in everything they do, and I think that’s awesome.”
Plenty of attention was paid Martinez, who delivered three innings in his start on Friday — and appropriately so. Just don’t forget about the guy who followed him on the mound.
Of everyone in the Cardinals’ rotation competition, Tyler Lyons continues to garner the least amount of attention. He’s considered a dark horse in the race for a starting job, though certainly he offers an appealing look from the left side. On Friday, he retired six of the seven batters he faced.
“You can only throw so many bullpens, so many live BPs, so I was excited to get back out there in a game setting and get competitive with other teams other than guys you sit next to in a locker room,” Lyons said. “I definitely feel more comfortable with where I’m at this year compared to last year, in general. I’m just trying to get people out, work on what I need to work on to get ready for the season.”
That is, in particular, his fastball command. In opening up his Major League career with consecutive seven-inning, one-run starts, Lyons showcased how effective his breaking ball can be if he also has command of his fastball. When that command waned, so did the results.
“He’s throwing the ball well,” Matheny said. “It’s not a lot different from what we’ve seen before. He’s worked on some small things. His stuff played well. It’s just a matter of getting more comfortable on the mound. All in all, he’s done a nice job.”
Marco Gonzales, the 19th pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, made his Grapefruit League debut on Friday. It did not go as smoothly as the first spring outing for No. 19 pick before him (Michael Wacha), but it can provide the canvas for a learning experience.
Gonzales entered the game in the sixth, following appearances from Martinez and Lyons. He pitched around a walk in that first inning of work. A leadoff walk in the seventh, however, wouldn’t not prove to be so innocuous. A double by Ty Wigginton (he’s back!) and triple from Jake Marisnick broke a tie and positioned Gonzales for the loss. He would walk another batter before being pulled with two outs.
(If you’re counting at home, that RBI hit by Wigginton put him two away from his 47-game total with the Cardinals last year.)
“[He] pitched around the zone a little more than what he does,” Matheny said afterward. “He’s a guy that commands the zone, especially to a couple of lefties, he should not be the guy putting people on base because he knows how to pitch inside the strike zone.”
Could debut jitters have played a role? Perhaps not entirely, as the Cardinals have noticed a similar approach in Gonzales’ live batting practice sessions. It’s a hint surprising, too, given that Gonzales positioned himself as a first-round pick largely due to command.
“We watch him in the lives realizing that there is a good chance that he might just be working on something. But it was kind of the same approach,” Matheny said. “We don’t try to overwhelm them, especially if a kid has had a little bit of success, don’t try to overwhelm them with philosophies. Let them do their thing and then if we see that they maybe need some redirection, that is when we talk.”
What an unbelievable experience to get my first innings today! Grateful for an opportunity to learn and get better everyday. #GoCards
— Marco Gonzales (@MarcoGonzales_) February 28, 2014
A few notable guests popped into camp on Friday to visit with the Cardinals. Golfer Ricky Fowler, who lives in the area, spent some time with players. Bill Parcells, long a regular in Cardinals camp, watched the game from a suite.
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