Spring Training day 2: Back in the old stomping grounds
It was really, really nice to be back at Cardinals camp today, seeing familiar faces, treading familiar ground and of course having lunch at Pyrogrill. The Cards even worked out inside the stadium, so I got to set foot in there one more time. Definitely a treat. Headed to Viera tomorrow, and then over to the western coast of Florida after that.
A few nuggets from today’s camp. If you want more details, head over to Cardinals.com for David Villavicencio’s notebook. David filled in for Jenifer Langosch, who received a well-earned day off.
* As I was walking back from watching some of the prospects take BP, I saw a curious sight on Field 1. There were three people on the entire field: Minor League pitching coaches Dennis Martinez and Blaise Ilsley, and Adron Chambers. Martinez would mimic a pitching motion, Chambers would take a jump from first to second, and then they would confer.
It turns out Chambers was working on his jumps, and specifically on getting down the exact number of strides to get to and from various places on the basepath. He’s also been working with Ozzie Smith and Willie McGee on base-stealing technique.
“It’s good to know how many strides does it take me to get to the base,” Chambers said. “So when I’m stealing, I can understand, OK, it took me three strides to get right there where I wanted to get. So in my head I can feel good. That’s just what I’m trying to do. Trying to get a jump and then understand how long it takes me to get to that spot. And then once I figure it out, try to get there as fast as I can.”
* Chris Carpenter was, as usual, not all that chatty about his live BP session. Carpenter can be a fascinating, thoughtful guy when you get him sitting down, but in Spring Training he often doesn’t have a lot to say. He made one rather interesting point this afternoon, though.
Though Carpenter doesn’t often throw a four-seam fastball in games, he’s throwing only four-seamers at this point. The idea is that he first trains himself to locate the four-seamer in certain “lanes,” as he put it. You throw it to those points, locate it, and then you start cutting and sinking the ball. For him, throwing a cutter or sinker to a spot at this point is not necessarily valuable because you end up aiming at the wrong place. Throw the straight one, to a spot, and then start worrying about making it move.
* A much shorter version of this quote appears in the story I just filed to MLB.com on Yadier Molina’s contract, but here’s the whole thing. I asked Mike Matheny about whether catching gets more draining/grinding/difficult as you get into your 30s, and he said it doesn’t have to be.
“I think I had my best season at 35, so it depends on how you go about your business. It depends on being blessed with health and staying on top of it. I’ve got to tell you, he’s worked harder this year than I’ve ever seen him work. There’s just something about some people. No matter how much they’re acknowledged, how many things they acquire as far as trophies on the mantel, their motivation is bigger than that. Every once in a while you come across that. I think those guys are special, and Yadi to me has been one of those guys. I think we’re going to continue to see great things from him for a long time. It’s just a matter of his body cooperating.”
* One newsy tidbit: Matheny confirmed that Shelby Miller will start Wednesday, and Adam Wainwright’s first game will be on Friday in Fort Myers.
And, finally, the playlist. Today’s is a day late, but it’s a tribute to one of my all-time favorite bands. Yesterday was the 19th anniversary of Living Colour’s amazing, challenging third album, “Stain.” So the playlist is five favorites from that album:
-M. (photos to come)