Mets 3, Cardinals 0

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Spring Training doesn’t bring with it the luxuries of the regular season, and there was a great reminder of that Sunday. With the game not televised or taped, third base/infield coach Jose Oquendo had only one way to show Matt Carpenter how nice his form looked turning a tough double play at second. And so Oquendo ushered Carpenter into the tight, on-site media workroom, where Carpenter could watch a slideshow of photos (on the computer of Scott Rovak, the team’s official photographer).

Rovak snapped several shots in sequence, showing Carpenter staying in as a runner rushed at him and then getting out of the way in perfect form. Oquendo gave Carpenter an ‘A’ in execution.

While Carpenter has handled all the routine plays at second with ease, this was the first time this spring that he had really been challenged trying to turn a double play. Carpenter’s flawless execution only adds to the good impression he’s given.

***

Making his first appearance since being told he’ll pitch in relief to start the season, Trevor Rosenthal looked in mid-season form. Seriously. He hit 100 mph on the stadium radar gun four times en route to striking out the side in the seventh. Knowing he was only going to pitch an inning, he had nothing to hold back.

“He looks like a different pitcher when he goes out there for one-inning stints,” manager Mike Matheny said. “Ninety-six [mph] is pretty good when you go out there for three innings, but when he’s bumping 98-100 [mph], you have a little more room for error. That makes his breaking stuff that much better. He’s an absolute weapon to be used out of the ‘pen. I think we’re better with him out there in the bullpen.”

Though Rosenthal still expresses a desire to start in the future, he seems content settling into a bullpen role for the immediate. As for the velocity, did he sneak a peek on Sunday when he heard the crowd react?

“I try not to,” Rosenthal said. “I try to just focus on getting ahead, making those pitches, making sure I keep that mound presence and stay aware of what is going on in the game. I don’t want to get too relaxed out there. It’s fun to be able to come here and have that special ability. Ultimately, it’s not the most important thing, so I try not to focus too much on it.”

***

Eduardo Sanchez was not so impressive in the ninth inning. Sanchez has looked strong all spring, a credit to his ability to stay true to his prescribed delivery and mechanics. He got out-of-whack in this one, though. Sanchez walked two and allowed a hit in the two-run frame. Matheny said he saw a lot of the mechanical issues that have held Sanchez back from reaching his potential before surface again.

“I don’t know if he just wanted to do a little more,” Matheny said. “That’s just part of the maturing process. He just has to learn it isn’t going to work. He has to stay in the zone. He’s got plenty. He doesn’t have to reach back for one more mile-an-hour because all it does is make him all over the place.

“He’s been told before. He’s going to be told again. He’s got such exciting pitches, that if he just keeps up with it, he’ll figure it out.”

***

Starter Jaime Garcia looked really, really good in his start today. He was efficient, had command of all his pitches and maintained a good tempo. He induced several swings and misses. He was so efficient, too, (65 pitches in five innings) that he had to go throw extra pitches in the bullpen to work his pitch count up after coming out of the game. Garcia was light on the insight, saying only, “I was able to work down in the strike zone. Like I said, our catcher [Rob Johnson] called a great game and the defense made some great plays behind me.”

Added Matheny: “I thought he threw the ball really well. You could tell the ball was running all over the place. He had a real smooth, fluid action to him. I was happy to see how the ball was coming out of his hand. He did a nice job.”

***

Odds and ends:

  • Matheny said that only one of Joe Kelly and Shelby Miller will be making a start later this week. The other would be in a “piggybacking” role in relief. He would not specify who the start would go to or what could be read into that decision. The two right-handers are competing for the fifth spot in the Cardinals’ rotation.
  • Players who are participating in Monday’s game left for Tampa late Sunday afternoon. Among those who made the trip are: Lance Lynn, David Freese, Matt Adams, Pete Kozma, Matt Carpenter, Jon Jay and Oscar Taveras.
  • Matheny did not head to Tampa, but instead drove himself to the airport where he was scheduled to catch a return flight to St. Louis. He is undergoing back surgery in the morning.
  • Check out the cardinals.com notebook (click here) for more on Matheny’s surgery, Matt Holliday’s health status and the Cardinals’ representation in the World Baseball Classic.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

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