Twins 7, Cardinals 0
First a quick update on the Rafael Furcal situation: He saw head team physician Dr. George Paletta today, and the Cardinals have nothing new to report after that visit. Furcal is now set to see Dr. James Andrews on Wednesday for a second opinion. The organization and Furcal should have a much better understanding of what the shortstop is dealing with and how it will have to be treated after that visit.
There isn’t much to highlight from the Cardinals’ day on offense (which featured a mere two singles), so we’ll go to the pitching. Lance Lynn made his second appearance of spring and lasted 2 1/3 innings (48 pitches). His results haven’t been great, but we’re still at the point in spring where process trumps results.
Lynn explained afterward that he approached the outing intending to focus on his sinker, a pitch that he hopes can garner him more groundballs even at the expense of strikeout numbers. Strikeouts may be the sexy stat, but they also can drive pitch counts up quite quickly. Using his sinker to induce groundballs earlier in counts could help get Lynn deeper in starts.
“Today was a great day to throw four-seamers [fastballs] up in the zone and let them hit it as hard as they could, but that’s not going to make me any better,” Lynn said. “That’s where we’re at. I’m just trying to keep the ball on the ground, use my sinker. We’re trying to do things where I can have quicker, easier innings and the sinker is the way to go. We were trying to pound that all day long and they just got some hits on it early on.”
Lynn allowed four first-inning singles and another single in the third. For the most part, he got the groundballs he was looking for off the sinker… only that a number of them found holes.
“I think he’s right on pace to where he should be, just like the other starters,” manager Mike Matheny said. “He’s getting built up. When guys go in with a plan, they need to stick with their plan through Spring Training. The foolish thing to do is to back off when you’re not getting the results that you want. You need to stick with what you’re working on, make the minor adjustments.”
Matheny was able to simulate (as best he could in the third inning) how he will use Randy Choate throughout the season. Lynn had neared his pitch count with one out and one on in the third, and with the left-handed hitting Chris Parmelee batting, Matheny turned to his lefty specialist.
“I was hoping,” Matheny said, “to get the double play and have Randy face one guy.”
It didn’t exactly work out that way. Choate walked Parmelee before a great play by second baseman Daniel Descalso helped get Choate out of the inning.
It’s becoming old news but Michael Wacha continues to be very, very good. He logged 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief, striking out another three. on Monday. He finally pitched amid some adversity, but even that didn’t shake him. With runners on the corners and one out in the sixth, Wacha struck out Chris Herrmann looking. That was the last batter he faced (due to pitch count), but it was another impressive mark for the resume.
The Cardinals have not committed to where they will start Wacha this year, though you have to believe he’s pitched his way into conversations about a Triple-A rotation spot. Asked about the potential of Wacha inserting himself into the mix for a Major League rotation spot, Matheny offered a non-direct answer:
“It’s so early to say anything but it’s just not fair to him right now. He’s just walked into his first Spring Training ever and he just needs to pitch. He doesn’t need to have all the focus on him. He doesn’t need to have the ‘This is where he’s going to be. That’s where he’s going to be.’ Just pitch. We just continue to watch him without getting too far ahead of himself.”
The Cardinals cut three players — catcher Adam Ehrlich, catcher Jesus Montero and infielder Starlin Rodriguez — from Major League camp after Monday’s game. Minor League Spring Training is beginning this week, so the timing of the moves comes as no surprise.
All is well with David Freese, who plunged into the stands trying to catch a foul ball in the seventh inning. He landed on his tailbone (which was being iced after the game), but said he should be fine. He was removed from the game immediately and replaced by Ronny Cedeno.
Some leftovers: Jason Motte has served up a two-run homer in each of his last two appearances. … Pete Kozma earned another start at shortstop, though Matheny stressed that Kozma and Cedeno are going to be splitting time there fairly evenly for now. … Ryan Jackson will also get some work at shortstop, though it’s obvious he’s not the priority for the organization right now. … Jake Westbrook and Trevor Rosenthal are scheduled to pitch on Wednesday. The team’s probable starters for later this week have not been announced. … Tomorrow may be an off day, but check out the cardinals.com website for a blowout feature on top prospect Oscar Taveras. Hopefully the story will unveil some things you didn’t know about the 20-year-old outfielder.
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