Cardinals 8, Marlins 2

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

It took less than two innings for Cardinals players to start dropping from the field on Thursday, though the good news is that the injury issues don’t appear to be serious.

First to go down was Carlos Beltran, who was the victim of a really erratic Jacob Turner. Beltran took a pitch off his small right toe, ran the bases and then was in too much discomfort to return the next half inning. X-rays came back negative, though Beltran left the park still in a lot of pain. While this shouldn’t be an injury that keeps him out for the long-term, Beltran may not make another appearance for the Cardinals before he leaves on Sunday for the World Baseball Classic.

Just minutes after Beltran was replaced, Jake Westbrook was hit on the inside part of his left leg, around his knee, by a comebacker. That took him out of the game. Westbrook didn’t downplay how much it stung, but did say that he would have stayed on the mound had this been a regular-season game.

You can read more extensive injury updates on these two players here in the cardinals.com notebook.

***

It’s no secret that Oscar Taveras can hit, and a lot of talent evaluators would contend that Taveras could hit in the Majors now. He likely won’t get the chance to do so for a while longer, but he does continue to impress at the plate this spring.

On Thursday, Taveras drilled a grand slam over the fence in right.

“I study games on TV and video about how the Major League guys are pitching,” Taveras said afterward, through translator Jose Oquendo. “I have a good idea about what I’m doing at the plate. I have a gift, God-given, that I was born with.”

With the offensive side already advanced, Taveras has been told to key in on other areas of his game this spring. The Cardinals are looking for improvements on defense, better instincts baserunning and increased maturity all around.

“He continues to put together pretty good at-bats,” manager Mike Matheny said. ” Just keep taking at-bats. That’s what we keep tell him. The part that I was most impressed with [today] was the cutoff that saved a run. Those sort of things are little but make a big difference.”

***

Trevor Rosenthal looked much more settled on Thursday than he did in his first spring outing last Saturday. He seemed to temper his emotions, which kept Rosenthal from overthrowing as he had in that previous appearance.

With his efficiency, Rosenthal was able to pitch three innings (two hits, one run, one walk, one strikeout) in relief.  He’s the second Cardinals pitcher to throw three innings in a game this spring.

“He’s smoothed out his mechanics and even had better,  not just results, but better stuff,” Matheny said. “He was so amped up that [last] day. He was jumping. He was overusing his legs. [Pitching coach Derek] Lilliquist put a small adjustment into his mindset and his timing and front-foot contact and really timed everything up well. I thought he looked very good.”

***

Mitchell Boggs is making an adjustment, too, though it was clear Thursday that it is still a work in progress. The Cardinals have introduced a slide step movement into Boggs motion that he can use to better control the running game. Boggs had some command issues incorporating it in his one-inning appearance on Thursday, but this is obviously the time to smooth those issues out.

“I was happy that he took the advice to go out and do that,” Matheny said. “He was working on it actually in the ‘pen today before he came in and looked pretty good.”

Boggs will make one more relief appearance for the Cardinals before heading out to join up with Team USA for the World Baseball Classic.

***

The Cardinals travel to Kissimmee tomorrow to face the Astros (12:05 p.m. CT). Joe Kelly will make his spring debut in the game. Also scheduled to pitch are: John Gast, Marc Rzepczynski, Jason Motte, Eduardo Sanchez, Jorge Rondon, Victor Marte and Sam Freeman.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

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