Nationals 7, Cardinals 6
The news of the day came long before the Cardinals ever took the field at Space Coast Stadium. It has to do with Rafael Furcal, who has been shut down indefinitely. Peruse this story for more on Furcal’s status, his outlook, and the Cardinals’ situation at shortstop without the veteran.
Furcal’s two replacement options both started on Sunday — Pete Kozma at short, Ronny Cedeno at third. Kozma went 3-for-3 even though he never made great contact with the bat. Cedeno, who is working with hitting coach John Mabry on how to shorten his swing, went 0-for-3. He is 2-for-15 this spring.
Just because Cedeno has the larger contract and more experience doesn’t mean the job is his. Kozma is very much in the mix based on what he did last year and how well he’s played so far this spring.
Don’t read too much into the pitching lines today, as gusting winds and cold temperatures made for less-than-ideal conditions on the mound. Evidence: the two teams combined for 29 hits.
Said manager Mike Matheny: “That was a funky day on the mound, all around. Guys’ stuff just looked different.”
Though the wind was clearly affecting pitches, Jaime Garcia didn’t want to blame that for any part of his result. Garcia allowed two earned runs on five hits in three innings. He pushed his pitch count to 63 (39 strikes) against a Nationals lineup that looked much like the one Washington will use during the season.
“I don’t really think about those things because obviously it’s Spring Training and you’re trying to get your body in shape,” Garcia said when asked about facing a lineup of proven Major Leaguers. “But I think it’s a good thing. You’re coming to your place with the ‘A’ team and you can get some good things out of it and get yourself ready for the season.”
Let’s quickly revisit something Shane Robinson said about 10 days ago regarding his attempts to win a job on the Cardinals’ bench: “When it comes down to decision time, I don’t want them to have any question marks about me. I want them to know I’m their guy.”
Thus far, he’s backed that up with results.
With a 2-for-3 day that included a home run, Robinson’s spring average climbed to. 556. He did make a defensive snafu in center field, but the Cardinals have to be more than pleased with what they’ve seen of Robinson at the plate.
That’s not good news for Adron Chambers and Justin Christian, both of whom are seeking the same bench spot that Robinson would appear to be the favorite to win.
Though they ended up losing on a walk-off single, the Cardinals did rally to tie the Nats late due in large part to the two young players they borrowed from the early Minor League camp: James Ramsey (first rounder, 2012) and C.J. McElroy (third rounder, 2011). Ramsey reached base twice and scored once. McElroy had two RBI singles and a run scored.
Both will likely get some other Grapefruit League opportunities, too. The Cardinals only brought seven outfielders to big league camp and one of them (Carlos Beltran) is now gone for the World Baseball Classic. The Cardinals will need additional help regularly for the next few weeks.
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