Spring training injuries
For the second consecutive year, Jaime Garcia reported to camp with injury concerns, though hopes are higher in 2014 following his shoulder surgery the prior summer. Jason Motte had yet to throw off a mound as camp opened due to his May 2013 Tommy John surgery. The two will begin the season on the 15-day disabled list, rather than the 60-day, signaling hopes for a relatively-early return to action.
Outfielder Oscar Taveras underwent ankle surgery in August 2013 and was only cleared to run as camp got underway. The top prospect then suffered a hamstring injury and was shuffled off to minor league camp. Moved to Carlos Beltran's vacated spot in the outfield, Allen Craig said he had no lingering effects from the Lisfranc injury that hobbled him all fall of 2013.
Newcomer Peter Bourjos was given full clearance after the centerfielder's surgically-repaired wrist checked out ok. Another new arrival, second baseman Mark Ellis, missed a considerable number of spring games due to a knee injury.
Overall, the club appeared to exit the spring in good shape injury-wise.
Spring training results
On the field, the club played ok in Florida - except for when they took on the Marlins. St. Louis lost all six games against Miami, otherwise winning 11, losing seven and tying two. It was the club's second losing spring in the last 11 years. The other was 2006, and at least that season ended up well.
|Kelly claimed the fifth rotation spot|
The biggest competition in camp was for the fifth starter spot between Carlos Martinez and Joe Kelly. Though unstated, the latter had to pitch his way out of the job and did not. With a five-inning no-hit beginning to his final spring game, Kelly was named the winner - despite Martinez having a better spring overall. The latter was returned to the pen, likely to set up Trevor Rosenthal - at least until Motte is ready.
Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha and Martinez logged ERAs under 2.00 as starters and despite a high ERA (6.06), Lynn led the NL in spring strikeouts with 27, including one game with 10. Shelby Miller gave up three home runs, inflating his ERA close to Lynn's (5.83).
While the six starters were good, the middle of the bullpen struggled. Perhaps the most worrisome was Seth Maness, who yielded 11 runs in 11 2/3 frames. A non-roster invitee, Pat Neshek, earned one relief spot. With just a few days of camp remaining, the Cards brought in another, David Aardsma, joining his fifth organization in the last 12 months. However, Aardsma was not ready and the last pen seat instead went to Keith Butler (8.38 spring ERA), perhaps more by process of elimination than performance.
With Taveras unable to compete, outfielders Stephen Piscotty and Randal Grichuk received extended looks in camp. Both performed admirably, with the former especially receiving rave reviews. The pair should open the season alongside Taveras in a packed Memphis outfield.
Coming off his embarrassing World Series pickoff, Kolten Wong's spring began slowly, but the second baseman picked up his game. By the end of camp, he was among the Grapefruit League's offensive leaders in batting average (.375) and on-base percentage (.434) and appeared to take the second spot in the batting order.
Among the core players, only third baseman Matt Carpenter (.178) and Jon Jay (.188) struggled at the plate. Early in camp, the club announced a six-year contract with an option year for Carpenter and played him less to perhaps keep him fresher longer. Jay's major competitor, Bourjos, batted .324 in Florida.
After two consecutive springs with the NL's best ERA, the bullpen struggles dropped the Cards to third-worst at 5.27. The offense was in the middle of the pack, batting .260, down 20 points from the prior spring.
Projected opening day roster, starters and batting order
|Lynn||Siegrist (L)||T Cruz|
|S Miller||Motte (DL)|
|J Garcia (L DL)||Choate (L)|
Sunday update: Ellis will join Motte and Garcia on the 15-day disabled list to open the season with Kozma making St. Louis' 25-man roster.
To see the Cardinals' entire system by level and position, check out the Roster Matrix at The Cardinal Nation blog.
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