photo: Adam Wainwright (Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports)
Spring Training News and Notes
A summary of various reports coming out of St. Louis Cardinals Spring Training 2019:
- The Cardinals have avoided naming a closer for the 2019 season, says Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com. The ninth inning could be split between Andrew Miller and Jordan Hicks, depending on matchups and availability.
- Cardinals pitching coach Mike Maddux told Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch that he expects 12 pitchers to make the opening day roster, though the team remains open to taking 13 and having one less bench player available. The number of pitchers on the roster will affect which of the non-starting position players make the team out of camp. Several players could be on the bubble, such as Tyler 0’Neill and Yairo Munoz. Francisco Pena, Jose Martinez and Jedd Gyorko likely have a bench spot either way.
- Speaking of Gyorko, the addition of Paul Goldschmidt to the Cardinals starting eight and the move of Matt Carpenter back to third base leaves Gyorko somewhat in limbo, reports Langosch. Gyorko made 71 starts at third base last season, as Carpenter split time at first base with Jose Martinez. Now that Carpenter will make the permanent move back to third, Gyorko will function as a utility infielder. He will get work at all four infield spots in spring training. In addition to Gyorko and Munoz, the Cardinals also have a new utility player, Drew Robinson, acquired in an offseason trade with the Texas Rangers, who will prioritize his spring work in the infield. The left-handed hitting Robinson has more flexibility than Gyorko, as he can play all three outfield spots as well.
- With Marcell Ozuna and Yadier Molina not at full strength yet due to offseason surgeries, neither will play the field in the early weeks of camp but will make appearances at the plate in the DH position.
- Adam Wainwright has added a new pitch to his repertoire, a “power sinker”. The right hander learned the pitch from friend, and former Braves farmhand Charlie Morton. Morton was signed by the Tampa Bay Rays in the offseason, and Wainwright called him for some pitching advice. Wainwright debuted the pitch in his practice session on Saturday.
- Mike Mayers will be throwing a curve as well as a sinker this spring. Mayers threw the curveball in a game at Wrigley Field on the last day of the regular season in 2018. Adding the curve and the sinker takes Mayers from two pitches to four. Mayers, who is out of minor league options, will be vying for a bullpen spot on the opening day roster.
Wainwright invokes the “S” word
Anyone who has been paying any attention at all to baseball’s offseason knows that labor controversy has been stirred up over the slow moving and low spending market for free agents. Not only have the two biggest names in the free agent class not yet signed with a team, but a significant number of lesser names (estimated somewhere between 50-100) have also not found jobs.
This turn of events has caused some major league players to speak out publicly. Included in the list of outspoken players is the Cardinals’ own Adam Wainwright. In an interview with Tim McKernan of The Morning After on Radio’s 590 The Fan on Friday, Wainwright said in answering a question on this issue, “Unless something changes, there is going to be a strike, 100 percent”. He further expressed the worry of a walkout mid-season.
The entire interview can be heard here.
On Saturday, Wainwright took to Twitter to clarify his comments. In a 14-tweet thread that begins here, Wainwright explains that no player wants a strike but they all protect each other, and he sees players as entertainers, no different that actors or singers.
Wainwright’s twitter comments were retweeted and commented on by many. Nationals closer Sean Doolittle was among those who did, posting screenshots of the entire tweet thread.
On Sunday, none other than MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred commented obliquely and without reference to Wainwright specifically about the current state of baseball labor relations. Here is the quote in its entirety.
“I do believe it is unfortunate, it reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of how you conduct good labor relations to have people running around three years before an agreement expires, before there has been one word of negotiation, arguing that there’s going to be a strike. I missed that, you know, I actually have a degree in labor relations; we never learned that tactic. It really is not productive in terms of our business. I don’t think it’s good for our fans, I don’t think it’s good for the players. And I know it’s not going to change the outcome of the negotiation.”
Manfred also expressed dismay at the “negativity” around the game this spring and stated the belief that the conversation will improve by playing the game and “getting the glow back”.
I am sure many are looking forward to playing the game, glow or no glow. Spring training games start in a week, and the regular season begins on March 28.
Trade and Acquisition Rumors
There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.
There are no transactions to report.
Outfielder Marcell Ozuna (right shoulder surgery) will be on a limited throwing program during spring training but is expected to be ready by opening day, according to manager Mike Shildt.
Both Ozuna and catcher Yadier Molina, recovering from offseason knee surgery, will serve as designated hitters during the early weeks of spring training.
The cast has been removed from the hand of Justin Williams, but the 40-man roster outfielder will not play in any games this spring and probably open the season in extended spring training, according to Shildt.
Spring Training has begun as pitchers, catchers, and position players have all reported to camp. The first spring training game is this coming Saturday, February 23 against the Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium. The Spring Training Schedule can be found here. TCN’s consolidated Cardinals spring radio and television schedule follows.
Opening Day of the 2019 regular season begins on March 28 with the Cardinals in Milwaukee. The first series is a four game set against the Brewers, with the first game to start at 1:10 CT. That game will be followed by a 7:10 CT game on Friday, 6:10 CT on Saturday, and 1:10 CT on Sunday.
The Cardinals continue on the road to Pittsburgh to play two games against the Pirates on April 1 and 3. There will be no game on Tuesday, April 2.
The Cardinals home opener will be on Thursday, April 4 against the San Diego Padres. Friday will be an off day, and the Cardinals will resume the series against the Padres on Saturday and Sunday.
Blast from the Past
This week’s Blast from the Past remembers one of two Cardinals who were the first to be inducted into the Hall of Fame the year after it opened. The second will be covered in a later article.
John McGraw was both a player and a manager, but his connection to the Cardinals was only as a player. His induction to the Hall of Fame was based on his managerial career with two teams, the Baltimore Orioles and the New York Giants.
McGraw was born on April 7, 1873 in Truxton, NY. He began playing baseball for his town team, the Truxton Grays, and made a favorable impression on is manager, Albert Kenney. It was this relationship that began his professional baseball career. In 1890 Kenney bought into a new professional baseball franchise in Olean, NY. This team played in the New York-Penn League. McGraw begged his former coach to let him play on the team and Kenney decided to give him a chance. McGraw signed his first pro baseball contract on April 1, 1890. McGraw’s time on the team was brief, as his play was so bad in his first few games that he was released.
McGraw went on to play for other teams in New York, Gainesville, FL and finally in Cedar Rapids, IA. It was with the Cedar Rapids team that he found his opportunity for the majors. In an exhibition game against the Chicago White Stockings, McGraw impressed the Chicago manager, Cap Anson. This led to his first call to the major leagues, to the Baltimore Orioles in August of 1891.
McGraw remained with the Orioles through 1899. He was predominantly a third baseman. He hit .320 or higher every year from 1893 on and scored 100 runs in five seasons.
McGraw moved on to the Cardinals in 1900. He played only one season before returning to the Orioles. During his St. Louis season, he led the league in on base percentage at .505. McGraw slashed .344/.505/.416.
Known for a quick temper and for bending the rules, McGraw was a small man at 5 foot 7 inches and weighing only 155 pounds. He was nicknamed “Little Napoleon”.
Even though he had much success as a player, he was better known for his managing career. McGraw won 2,763 games as manager of the Orioles and the New York Giants, second behind only Connie Mack. He still holds the National League win record of 2,669 games. McGraw also held the record for most ejections by a manager at 132, until Bobby Cox broke the record in 2007.
In his 33-year managerial career, his teams won 10 NL pennants and three World Series titles. McGraw retired from baseball in 1932.
McGraw died of uremic poisoning on February 25, 1934. After his death, his wife found a list in his belongings of all the black players he wanted to sign over the years.
McGraw was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1937. A monument to him stands in his hometown of Truxton, NY.
Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation
Not yet a member?
Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system.
Order The Cardinal Nation’s 190-page 2019 Prospect Guide now – available in PDF and printed book form, with a special 50% off deal for annual members.
Follow Marilyn Green on Twitter @Marilyncolor.
© 2019 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.