Spring Training is Upon Us
It is finally here!! Spring Training 2013. The 2012 season for the St. Louis Cardinals came to a disappointing end on October 22nd in a loss in the National League Championship Series against the eventual champs, San Francisco. But, making it within a game of back-to-back World Series appearances, with a bunch of young, home-grown talent has folks in St. Louis very optimistic for the coming season. Not to mention, Manager Mike Matheny was in his first season as a Manager. That’s some sound experience.
The Springfield Cardinals ended 2012 on the highest of highs winning their first Texas League Championship in franchise history. In fact, the professional championship was the first for the city of Springfield since 1939! Pretty remarkable.
More than likely gone in 2013 will be Player of the Year, Oscar Taveras, super second base prospect, Kolten Wong, and a number of other key contributors, but the next batch of future St. Louis Cardinals will be on display at Hammons Field come April 11th.
A nice trip down memory lane for a moment there, but now it’s time to spring forward. The eternal optimism that is Spring Training. Every team is undefeated. Every team believes this is their year to win the World Series (yes, even the Cubs). Every fan base believes the same thing. However, games are won and lost on the field, not on paper (even the green kind that got shelled out from Yankees-Light, Los Angeles). The spring is for honing those skillsto prepare for the grind that is a 162 game season (spring training and playoffs excluded).
Pitchers and catchers reported today in Jupiter, Florida. Position players arrive on Valentine’s Day. Although many players have been throwing bullpens and getting ready for the last month, every other pitcher and catcher on the 40-man roster and Non-Roster Invitee list reported today, officially. A number of those are former/current Springfield Cardinals including Michael Blazek, Keith Butler, Eric Fornataro, Jorge Rondon and Kevin Siegrist (all on the 40-man roster). Non-Roster invites were given to Jon Gast, Tyler Lyons, Seth Maness, Carlos Martinez, Michael Wacha, Audry Perez, Greg Garcia, Kolten Wong and Oscar Taveras to name a few.
This opportunity, especially for the non-roster invitees, gives the younger guys a chance to mingle with vetrans and learn how they go about their business in the right way. It’s an honor and a privilege to be asked to come to major league camp. This group of players knows that and will make the most of their opportunities.
Back now to what Spring Training really means. It means the beginning of Spring and Summer. America’s past-time is officially back in action. It’s almost hard to believe that the Cardinals first Spring Training game is on February 23rd (against Miami). That’s LESS than two weeks away. Teams will have about seven full days of work outs before the games start. Crazy right?! Well, for some, that can’t get here soon enough.
The madness that is the Winter Meetings with signing and trading players is long gone. Some Free-Agents are still looking for jobs (see Kyle Lohse or Michael Bourn among others). Arbitration cases will be heard, jobs will be won, jobs will be lost…this is the real fun of Spring Training. A team never knows what’s going to happen. In 2001, did anyone see Albert Pujols coming? Nope, not even Bobby Bonilla and his bad hamstring. That worked out ok, right? Matt Carpenter won a job on the big league roster last year. Tony Cruz beat out former high prospect Bryan Anderson for the “Back up Yadi” sweepstakes. And who could forget Trevor Rosenthal?
The guy went from 21st round pick in ’09, to being invited to big league camp dominating big leaguers the entire time to being Springfield “Ace” until his major league call-up in July last summer. All he did from there was blow through every lineup in the playoffs with 100mph gas.
But those opportunities don’t happen unless the players, themselves, prove in Spring Training that they can do it and live up to the expectations. This is the time to shine for the youngsters.
As you may be realizing, this is a very exciting day. It’s almost like a Baseball-Christmas for fans. Go to sleep with the anticipation on the eve of Spring Training and when you wake up, there’s just that little extra hop in your step. Your shoulders are a held a little higher and the air smells a little sweeter. Today, Cardinals Nation, is a great day. Baseball Season is HERE!!!