photo: Miles Mikolas (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)
The St. Louis Cardinals added a left-handed bench bat, and experienced their first potentially significant injury of 2020 this past week. Our history feature highlights a “Creepy” period from the team’s past.
Cardinals sign free agent infielder Brad Miller
The St. Louis Cardinals placed emphasis on obtaining another left handed bat for the roster, and with Spring Training underway, they finally found what they were looking for. This past Wednesday the team announced it had signed free agent infielder Brad Miller to a one-year contract for a reported $2 million.
The 30-year old has spent his seven-year MLB career playing primarily shortstop but has logged time at all other infield positions as well as the outfield. Miller began 2019 with the Cleveland Indians but played in only 13 games before being designated for assignment. He then played in the Yankees minor league system and was traded to the Phillies on June 13. Miller ended the season in the majors with the Phillies and was granted free agency.
Miller will be competing for an infield spot on the roster with switch hitter Tommy Edman, and right handed hitters Yairo Munoz and Edmundo Sosa. Miller has no minor league options left and while Edman, Munoz, and Sosa all have options, Edman is almost assuredly guaranteed a spot on the roster due to his performance in 2019.
To open up a 40-man roster spot, the Cardinals placed RHP Jordan Hicks on the 60-day injured list. Hicks is recovering from Tommy John surgery and is expected to be ready to play after the All Star break.
Mikolas battling arm issues
Cardinals starting pitcher Miles Mikolas is experiencing the return of arm soreness in this first week of spring training that will slow his readiness for the season. The right hander pitched through issues with his right flexor tendon at the end of 2019 and received a platelet rich plasma (PRP) injection at the end of the season. Mikolas also had an MRI that found no ligament damage.
The flexor tendon problem has cropped up again. Mikolas did not throw a scheduled bullpen session but a second MRI on Saturday again found no issues with the ligament. A second PRP injection is a possibility.
The arm issues will delay Mikolas pitching in Grapefruit League games, which begin on Saturday, February 22. It is unclear whether Mikolas’ start to the regular season will also be impacted. The Cardinals have sufficient pitching depth in camp to cover any innings Mikolas will miss, with newcomer Kwang-Hyun Kim the most likely candidate to step into the rotation if needed.
Trade and Acquisition Rumors
Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch reports that 2B Kolten Wong is open to discussing an extension of his contract with the Cardinals. The 29 year old Wong has one more year left on his current contract that he signed four years ago. The Cardinals have a $12.5 million dollar option on Wong for 2021.
Continuing the longest-running rumor of the off-season, now spring training, President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak addresses ongoing questions about Rockies star third baseman Nolan Arenado.
Yes, John Mozeliak hears your calls for a certain third baseman. And as always, he explains his team’s current position as best he can on @KMOXSports: https://t.co/lrrBxCfNiu #stlcards pic.twitter.com/czJltKhlKj
— Tom Ackerman (@Ackerman1120) February 17, 2020
- 2/11 2B Ramon Urias was claimed off waivers by the Baltimore Orioles.
- 2/12 The Cardinals placed RHP Jordan Hicks on the 60-day injured list. Recovering from right elbow Tommy John surgery.
- 2/12 The Cardinals signed free agent 2B Brad Miller.
- RHP Miles Mikolas will have his spring training work delayed due to flexor tendon soreness in his right arm. An MRI found no damage to the ligament. Mikolas suffered with the same issues at the end of last season and received a PRP injection to address the problem then. A second PRP injection is being considered.
Spring Training is underway, with both pitchers and catchers as well as position players having reported.
A total of 73 players are in major league camp – 41 rostered players (including Hicks) and 32 non-roster invitees. The list of 32 NRIs are available at TCN here.
The first of 31 spring training games will be played on February 22 against the Mets at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter. The full spring training schedule can be viewed here.
The full spring training game broadcast schedule, including 24 games to be televised, can be found at TCN here.
Blast from the Past
This week’s Blast from the Past is the first in a series that will discuss former Cardinals players with unusual nicknames. We begin with one of the weirder nicknames in Cardinals lore, one that sounded worse than it actually was.
This player was born Frank Angelo Joseph Crespi on February 16, 1918 in St. Louis, Missouri, a hometown boy who played his entire five-year major league career with the Cardinals. Crespi was an infielder and made his big league debut at second base for the Cardinals on September 14, 1938.
Crespi only played in 25 major league games in his first three seasons, from 1938-40. His only full season was 1941, in which he played in 146 games and posted a slash line of .279/.355/.379. In his final season, 1942, he played in 93 games. Crespi appeared in one game in the 1942 World Series against the Yankees. He was a pinch runner in Game 1 and scored a run. The Cardinals won that series 4-1.
Crespi’s unusual nickname was “Creepy”. He is listed on his Baseball Reference page as “Creepy Crespi”. In a 1977 interview with Jack Buck, Crespi explained that he was given the nickname by a sportswriter because of the way he crept up low on a ground ball when fielding it. This is probably not the first meaning one would assume upon hearing the nickname for the first time.
Crespi was drafted into the US Army in World War II, refusing a deferment to care for his elderly mother. Unfortunately for Creepy, his left leg was fractured three times during this period, once during an Army baseball game, a second time during a training accident, and a third time in a hospital wheelchair race. A nurse accidentally burned Crespi’s leg with boric acid and he suffered a permanent limp as a result. Crespi had 23 surgeries on the leg in total.
Needless to say, Crespi’s baseball career was over, so he went to work for McDonnell Douglas, where he remained employed for 20 years. After his retirement, he discovered he had not been officially retired from baseball but had been on the disabled list the entire time. As a result, Crespi qualified for his major league pension.
Crespi passed away on March 1, 1990 in Florissant, Missouri after suffering a heart attack.
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