photo: Zack Thompson (St. Louis Cardinals)
News and Notes from Spring Training
St. Louis Cardinals 2021 Spring Training has begun with pitchers and catchers having reported on Wednesday, February 17. Position players reported over the weekend and the first full squad workout begins on Monday (today). The following news and notes were gleaned from multiple Zoom interviews given to media.
- Most healthy pitchers and catchers reported on the 17th. Andrew Miller was a few days late due to a personal matter. Several position players reported eraly, including Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt and Paul DeJong.
- Players will spend less time in the locker room due to Covid-19 protocols. Outdoor tents have been set up for meetings, eating, and Covid-19 testing. Initial Covid intake showed no positives among players or staff.
- Manager Mike Shildt said the roster will be kept together throughout camp instead of sending players to minors camp, which is not expected to begin until late March or early April. Simulated games and “B” games will likely be set up to get innings for pitchers.
- While it was initially thought that all spring games would be nine innings, John Mozeliak reported that after discussions with other four teams whom they will be playing against that some early games may be only seven innings.
- The addition of Arenado will bring changes for a couple of players, most importantly Matt Carpenter. Shildt says Carpenter will likely see time at all infield positions except shortstop. A turn in the outfield is unlikely according to Shildt. Third base prospect Nolan Gorman will get work at second base and maybe outfield. Gorman has been working with Jose Oquendo and Stubby Clapp at second and early reports are encouraging.
- With respect to the starting rotation, Carlos Martinez is in the mix and pitched well in winter ball. Alex Reyes will get some consideration to start as will John Gant. Daniel Ponce de Leon, Johan Oveido, Matthew Liberatore, and Zack Thompson will be developed as starters in camp.
- Ryan Helsley, Giovanny Gallegos, Andrew Miller and Tyler Webb are preparing to be relievers. Jordan Hicks is being monitored. No decision on a closer will be made until the end of camp.
- Dakota Hudson reported early to Florida but is not expected to pitch in 2021. He is currently on a non-throwing program but is tentatively scheduled to play catch around March 15. He is reportedly ahead of schedule on his rehab from Tommy John surgery.
Spring Training Numbers Set
Spring training number assignments for Cardinals players and coaches have been announced. We offer two views – a straight 0-99 take and more detailed breakdown, including changes from spring 2020.
One of the most notable changes is the return to active use is no. 57, last worn by the late Darryl Kile in 2002. It has been assigned to prospect pitcher Zack Thompson.
Minor League Schedules Released
On Thursday, November 17, schedules were released by the four St. Louis Cardinals affiliates. Triple A is scheduled to play 144 games with an April 6 Opening Day for the Triple-A East (including Memphis) with the Triple-A West following two days later.
The Double-A and the A-ball levels are slated to play 120 games. Due to their delayed spring training, these leagues will not open until May 4. For all full-season clubs, the schedule is scheduled to conclude on September 19 with no playoffs to be held in 2021.
Trade and Acquisition Rumors
Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch told fans in his weekly chat that the Cardinals maintain interest in RHP Jake Odorizzi but that the interest is not aggressive. On the other hand, it was reported by several news outlets that President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak told the media in a press conference at the start of spring training that he is confident going into opening day with the roster they currently have.
There are no transactions to report.
- RHP Dakota Hudson (Tommy John surgery) remains likely to miss the entire 2021 season, but reports are that Hudson holds out hope for a September return, perhaps in a relief capacity. The right hander is scheduled to begin playing catch on March 15.
Spring training is underway and pitchers and catchers have reported and have begun workouts. Position players reported over the weekend and full squad workouts will commence on Monday.
The Spring Training game schedule has been modified and can be found here. The Cardinals will play only the four teams on the East Coast of Florida to minimize travel. Those teams are the Marlins, Mets, Astros and Nationals.
The revised schedule reduced the original 30-games to 24, 12 home games and 12 road games. Eight of the 24 will be evening games that begin at 5:05 pm CT. The Cardinals will have five off days during the Spring Training schedule. The annual exhibition game against the Memphis Redbirds prior to the start of the regular season will not be played this year.
The first spring training game is scheduled for Sunday, February 28 against the Washington Nationals at Roger Dean Stadium. Game time is 12:05 pm CT. The last spring training game will be on March 29 against the Mets at Roger Dean Stadium at 11:05 am CT. The Cardinals regular season begins on April 1 in Cincinnati for the Reds home opener. Game time is 3:10 pm CT.
Blast from the Past – Ozzie Smith: 1997 to the present.
In the final installment of the Ozzie Smith series, we look at Smith’s career post-baseball. As noted last week, Ozzie retired at the end of the 1996 season in part due to a personality conflict with manager Tony La Russa. Smith’s Hall of Fame baseball career spanned 19 years in total, 15 of which were with the Cardinals.
Smith moved into broadcasting right after he retired. In 1997, he replaced Mel Allen as the host of “This Week in Baseball”. He also was the color man for Cardinals games on KPLR in St. Louis from 1997 to 1999. Following his time with This Week in Baseball, Ozzie moved on to CNN-SI in 1999.
Smith would not work for the Cardinals while La Russa remained the manager. After La Russa retired in 2011 and Mike Matheny took over in 2012, Ozzie agreed to assist the team as a special instructor.
Smith also went into business. He opened a restaurant/sports bar in 1988. Ozzie’s at Westport closed in 2009. He also invested in a grocery store and opened a youth sports academy in 1990. Only the youth sports academy remains in operation.
Smith also authored a children’s book called “Hello, Fredbird!” in 2006 and launched his own brand of salad dressing in 2008.
Smith was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2002 on the first ballot. He also entered the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame and the St. Louis Walk of Fame. He was one of 22 players inducted into the inaugural class of the Cardinals Hall of Fame in 2014. Smith finished third in the voting for shortstop in Major League All Century Team. He was ranked #87 on the Sporting News list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players.
A bronze statute of Smith was erected on the Northwest corner of the current Busch Stadium. The statute shows Smith in a horizontal position fielding a baseball.
Smith also spent some time in “show business”, playing the role of the Wizard in the St. Louis Municipal Opera’s 2001 summer production of “The Wizard of Oz”. His son, Nikko, was a finalist in the 2005 edition of American Idol.
Ozzie remains a resident of St. Louis and is a visible figure in the area.
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