photo: Paul DeJong (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)
The St. Louis Cardinals finished the first part of spring training with a 10-9-1 record before the players dispersed due to the coronavirus outbreak. Stats leaders include Paul DeJong, Kwang-Hyun Kim and Tyler Webb. Our history feature highlights past MLB interruptions and a Cardinal who passed away in a prior pandemic.
Spring training game recaps
The Cardinals blanked the Twins in Fort Myers to begin the week. Kwang-Hyun Kim got the start and tossed three scoreless innings, allowed no hits and struck out four. Daniel Ponce de Leon followed with five scoreless innings with no hits allowed, two strikeouts and two walks. Alex Reyes pitched the ninth and gave up two hits in a scoreless inning with two strikeouts.
John Nogowski got St. Louis on the board in the third inning on a ground out RBI. In the fourth, Austin Dean hit a solo home run. Max Schrock’s sac fly in the fifth delivered the third and final Cardinal score.
Justin Williams was picked off first base. Andrew Knizner had a passed ball error.
The Cardinals remained in Fort Myers to take on the Red Sox on Tuesday. The offense scored both of its runs in the first inning on a single by Brad Miller. There was six St. Louis hits in total, two singles from Paul DeJong and singles from Rangel Ravelo, Nolan Gorman, and Max Schrock in addition to the Miller RBI single.
Starter Jack Flaherty pitched three scoreless innings, allowed three hits, struck out five and walked two. Johan Oviedo, Jake Woodford, Junior Fernandez, Roel Ramirez, Giovanny Gallegos, and Tyler Webb followed. Oviedo surrendered one run before Fernandez yielded two.
Ravelo and Lane Thomas each stole a base. Tyler O’Neill was caught stealing. Jose Godoy made a passed ball error.
The Cardinals returned to the Atlantic Coast Wednesday to face the Mets in Port St. Lucie. Carlos Martinez took the mound and had a rocky start. Martinez pitched 3 2/3 innings and gave up six runs on six hits while fanning six and walking one. John Brebbia, Brett Cecil, Evan Kruczynski, Ryan Helsley and Kodi Whitley succeeded Martinez on the mound. Helsley yielded the seventh Mets run.
St. Louis’ offense was kept off the board until the fourth inning when Matt Carpenter hit a solo home run to left field. Lane Thomas had his own solo shot in the eighth, and John Nogowski plated a run on a single in the ninth.
Austin Dean made an outfield assist at second base.
The Cardinals blanked the Marlins in what turned out to be the final game of spring training. The game was scoreless on both sides until Justin Williams’ double in the sixth inning got St. Louis on the board. Dennis Ortega followed with a two run single to make the final score 3-0.
Starter Adam Wainwright tossed five scoreless innings, allowed two hits and struck out three. John Gant, Tyler Webb, and Giovanny Gallegos combined for the final four run-free frames.
The Big Picture
The Cardinals began the shortened week with a record of 8-7-1 and ended the week and the first part of spring training 10-9-1. The final game was anticlimactic in that the announcement that spring training was ending was made while the game was in progress.
The Cardinals as a team ranked 13th of 30 teams in OPS at .749, with a team slash line of .242/.337/.412. Of all 40-man players, Paul DeJong led the offense with a slash line of .464/.484/.929. Last was Dexter Fowler, with a slash line of .097/.176/.097. Among prospects, Dylan Carlson slashed .313/.436/.469. Right behind him was Nolan Gorman, with a slash line of .308/.357/.500.
In pitching, the Cardinals ranked fifth of the 30 teams with a team ERA of 3.55. Potential rotation member Kwang-Hyun Kim posted a 0.00 ERA in four appearances, two as a starter. In the reliever category, Tyler Webb had a 0.00 ERA in six appearances. Other standouts included Daniel Ponce de Leon (0.69), Ryan Helsley (1.29), Genesis Cabrera (1.50), and Austin Gomber (2.25).
These numbers should be taken in the context of a shortened spring training, however. When baseball returns, there will likely be spring training preparation before the season starts of approximately two weeks, whether back in Florida or possibly in St. Louis.
Baseball delayed indefinitely
In light of the public health crisis in the United States (and elsewhere) and the very real risks involved with mass gatherings, the Commissioner’s office, in conjunction with the MLBPA, made the decision to end spring training as of 4:00 pm ET on Thursday, March 12. The regular season was also delayed for at least two weeks, until April 9.
Players were given the choice of either: 1) remaining at spring camps; 2) returning to the team’s home city; or 3) returning to the player’s offseason home. All spring training camps were closed and shut down to the general public.
The Cardinals met on Friday to decide as a team what they would do. It was reported that from 15-25 players would likely be remaining in Jupiter. There would be informal workouts planned, said manager Mike Shildt, and a “good, healthy presence of staff”.
All Cardinals minor leaguers were sent home and there will be no minor league camp for the foreseeable future.
The Cardinals share the Roger Dean Stadium Complex in Jupiter, and the Marlins have shut down their camp completely. Players have been discouraged from even holding workouts outside the complex.
On Sunday morning, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported that MLB is expected to issue guidelines advising teams to not hold workouts at spring training sites or home ball parks. The guidelines are expected to allow camps to remain open for individual needs, but with limited staff.
Should these guidelines be issued as expected, the Cardinals’ plans will have to change.
The public health situation remains at crisis levels and is expected to get worse. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a recommendation that all mass gatherings over 50 people be cancelled for the next eight weeks, to mid-May.
Many states have closed schools, restaurants and bars and more are expected to follow. Given the extent of the crisis, the likelihood of baseball returning by April 9 is almost zero. The CDC directive plus the time to run what the Cardinals are calling “Camp 2” suggests a June 1 restart of regular season play may be the most optimistic target at this point.
Obviously, the situation remains fluid.
Trade and Acquisition Rumors
There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.
There are no transactions to report.
- Early in camp, RHP Miles Mikolas (right flexor tendon) had a second PRP injection in his right arm to battle a recurrence of inflammation in his right flexor tendon. The last update was that Mikolas would likely be out until mid-April but would be able to start throwing again soon. Given the delay in the start of the season, Mikolas could be available when the season starts.
- RHP Jordan Hicks (Tommy John surgery) was placed on the 60 day injured list and is expected to be out until after the All-Star Break.
- LHP Andrew Miller (left arm) pitched a bullpen session on Wednesday of last week and felt he was on the right track. Whether he will be available for Opening Day depends on continued improvement with no setbacks.
- LHP Brett Cecil (right hamstring strain) was scheduled for an MRI last Thursday. Manager Mike Shildt stated that the injury is fairly significant but is not a full tear. He has stated he expects Cecil to be out “multiple weeks”. So are all players at this point.
Spring Training has ended early and Opening Day is postponed. On Thursday, March 12, Commissioner Rob Manfred and the MLBPA came to an agreement to end spring training and delay the beginning of the regular season for at least two weeks due to public health concerns over the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). When baseball will resume is unknown at this time. Given the severity of the public health situation, a June re-start is not out of the realm of possibility. How the delay will affect the post-season is one of many, many open questions.
Blast from the Past
Major League Baseball faces a shortened season for 2020, potentially losing months off the season calendar, due to the current coronavirus public health crisis that has gripped the world in a global pandemic.
Baseball has experienced shortened seasons before, with most having been of minor consequence – labor issues. The first player strike in the game’s history occurred in 1972. A dispute over pension payouts delayed the start of the season by two weeks. The owners relented after 13 days, but 85 games in all were missed in those two weeks, all of which were never made up.
In 1981 there was a player walkout on June 11 over a free agency dispute. Play did not resume until August 10. A two-day strike in 1985 related to the pension fund and a salary cap in arbitration. The games missed were made up. 1990 brought a brief lockout that caused opening day to be postponed for a week. The games were made up.
Then there was the big one, in 1994-95. Negotiations over a new Collective Bargaining Agreement went badly, and the schedule was cancelled following games on August 11. There were no playoffs and no World Series in 1994. This was the first and only time since 1904 there was no October Classic. The strike continued until April 2, 1995. The start of the season was postponed for three weeks to give the players an abridged spring training. Opening Day was on April 25, and the season was shortened to 144 games.
The only other time prior to 2020 when the season was threatened was in 1918. World War I had begun in 1917, but the baseball season was not affected all that much. Some players were either drafted or enlisted but the season went on as scheduled. However, by the time the 1918 season came around, the reality of war had set in, and owners decided to reduce the season from 154 games to 140. By May, the War Department needed more soldiers for the War, and though owners tried to get an exemption for baseball players, they were unsuccessful. The season was cut short by another two weeks and the season ended early, on September 2. The World Series was played from September 5-11.
The 1918 season was also the year of the Spanish flu – the greatest global pandemic in history which killed millions of people worldwide. The disease didn’t hit the United States until the fall, so it didn’t affect the season the way the War did. An estimated 675,000 Americans died of the disease.
While the flu did not affect the season, baseball players individually were affected. A handful of players, including one who played for the Cardinals, died of the Spanish flu. Harry Glenn played baseball from 1910 to 1918, mostly in the minor leagues, but he did play in six major league games for the Cardinals in 1915. Glenn was a catcher. He was drafted into the military in August of 1918 and was training in St. Paul, Minnesota when he caught the Spanish flu and died of it on October 12, 1918.
The Spanish flu also felled sportswriters and umpires as well as players.
The shortened 2020 season will be the first season affected by a global pandemic. How much the season will be shortened is unknown. While baseball seasons come and go, let us hope no baseball player is a victim the way Harry Glenn and others were in 1918.
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