Cardinals 3, Twins 1

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

First off, a few links… Click here to read about Carlos Martinez’s latest pitch for a rotation spot… here to see Matt Adams’ monster blast… here to find out when Mark Ellis is expected back on the field… and here to see who was sent to Minor League camp on Wednesday.

OK, onto what was not covered at length over on cardinals.com…

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Pat Neshek returned to the mound on Wednesday, pitching in a Grapefruit League game for the first time in a week and for the first time since his son, Hoyt, was born. Neshek showed no rustiness as he struck out two and allowed one hit while collecting a save with a scoreless ninth. The only pitching he had done since last Thursday was on the backfields; Neshek threw seven pitches in a Minor League game on Monday.

“Obviously, when you start taking the bigger picture into this thing, we keep talking about how important it is for him to not really focus on the baseball, so it’s nice to see that’s all taking care of itself,” manager Mike Matheny said. “It’s been hard because he’s been a kid who wants to come in here and prove what he can do and make a club, but his attention needs to be back there [with his family]. That can sometimes make it tough to go back and forth. … We knew he wasn’t going to lose what he was doing here, but that’s tough on your mind because you have to be right when you get on the mound. That just shows, I think, his toughness.”

Neshek has positioned himself to make the Cardinals’ bullpen out of camp, which (as was addressed in the blog Q of the Day this morning) will require a roster move by the organization. There will be time for that. For now, I’m happy to pass along Neshek’s report that baby Hoyt is improving and still expected to be discharged from the hospital on Sunday.

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Regarding the bullpen: It looks like the Cardinals have one final spot to fill and four candidates remaining in camp. Five relievers are already all but officially in the ‘pen — Trevor Rosenthal, Randy Choate, Kevin Siegrist, Seth Maness and Neshek. The sixth will be either Joe Kelly or Carlos Martinez, whoever does not win a rotation job.

And who will be the seventh? After sending Tyler Lyons down to Minor League camp on Wednesday, the Cardinals have four other pitchers remaining in camp who are not projected for rotation spots. Those four are Keith Butler, Jorge Rondon, Sam Freeman and Scott McGregor. Whoever that seventh reliever is will be a placeholder while Jason Motte finishes his rehab from Tommy John surgery.

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With his second home run of spring, Matt Adams improved his spring batting average to .314 on Wednesday. A lot of people have been asking how the Cardinals can replace the power lost with Carlos Beltran’s departure — and I’ll point you to Adams. He hit 17 home runs in 296 at-bats last season as a part-time player. If Adams seizes the opportunity to play everyday, he should easily hit as many homers (24) as Beltran did in 2013.

“We know he has that lofting power,” Matheny said of Adams’ blast on Wednesday. “You don’t see many in the league, actually, who get the ball in the air and get it to carry like he does. He’s been swinging the bat well.”

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