the next ten days, one might consider the St. Louis Cardinals as unofficially
transitioning from “World Champions” to “defending World Champions” as they
filter into spring training camp in Jupiter, Fla. to prepare for the 2012
winter that may normally seem too long to some may have been too short this time
around for many members of the 2011 team as they participated in numerous
ceremonies and banquets celebrating their accomplishments.
Cardinal can match the whirlwind experienced by NLCS and World Series MVP David Freese. The third baseman’s numerous appearances, including
multiple occasions on national television, may have culminated with him being a
part of the club’s White House visit.
Almost certainly, every member of the team, whether young or old,
dealt with these requests for time, often from local concerns.
this past Friday night, Lance Berkman was honored in his Houston hometown as the
Area Major League Player of the Year. The setting was the 27th annual Houston Baseball Dinner, which celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Astros franchise. My
friend and blogger Bill McCurdy was in attendance and
shared the above photo.
polished and entertaining speaker, Berkman fired off some comedic jabs at those
from his MLB home for more than 11 seasons. Though still extremely popular in Houston, he also absorbed
some friendly blows, including wishes from Astros manager Brad Mills that he
plays his age (36) this year. New GM Jeff Luhnow openly campaigned for Berkman
to become the Astros’ 2013 designated hitter as the club moves to the American
he is at the other end of the Cardinals experience spectrum, 2011 rookie Daniel Descalso also covered his share of events this winter. On Saturday, the 25
year-old was honored at his alma mater, the University of California – Davis.
month, his high school, St. Francis High School in
Mountain View, Cal., celebrated Daniel Descalso Day. Along
with being noted as World Champion, in a reminder of his roots, the infielder
was tagged by his local paper as being the oldest of “George
and Marylou Descalso's six kids.”
the newer Cardinals in the photo-op news is reliever Marc Rzepczynski. Though he
joined the club in trade from Toronto in July, the left-hander quickly became
a vital member of the bullpen down the stretch and through the post-season run.
graduate of another school in the California system, UC Riverside, “Scrabble”
attended the college’s annual baseball alumni game on
Saturday. Though he did not pitch, not surprisingly Rzepczynski was the center
hometown papers across the country, even minor leaguers are receiving ink as they share their hopes and dreams of one day reaching the pinnacle of
their profession as have Berkman, Descalso and Rzepczynski.
such example is Henderson High
School’s Tyrell Jenkins. The former Texas prep star is
understandably excited about
participating in his first major league spring training camp. The fact the
right-hander will be working alongside the 2012 champions is the frosting on the
soon, the excitement and celebrations will subside as the returning champions
and the new-for-2012 Cardinals report to camp and get to work. Yet the official
transition may not occur until the home opener on April 13 when the flag is
raised and rings distributed.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Look for his weekly minor league column during the season at FOXSportsMidwest.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.
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