Cardinals 3, Nationals 2

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Over on cardinals.com you can read the game recap… more on David Aardsma’s signing… and more on Adam Wainwright’s final Grapefruit League start. There is also a Q&A with Cardinals broadcaster Mike Shannon, who shares his thoughts about what he has seen this spring and expects this season.

One more game remains on the Cardinals’ Grapefruit League schedule, and if precedent holds true, it will be a quick one. Getaway day down here often seems to bring out the swing-at-first-pitch approach. Everyone is ready to go.

Before leaving, though, the Cardinals did get a look at how their bullpen should set up to begin the year. After Aardsma pitched the sixth, manager Mike Matheny started a sequence of Kevin Siegrist, Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal. Martinez’s inability to finish the eighth also pushed Matheny to insert Pat Neshek into the mix.

Martinez threw 32 pitches while recording just two outs. He allowed two runs in the inning after giving up three in his four spring starts combined. This was Martinez’ first relief outing and first appearance since being told he’ll begin the season in that sort of role. The Cardinals expect to pitch Martinez once more out of the bullpen before the season starts. They hope it will go better.

“I think it’s just a matter of getting back locked in to what it means to come into a game in the eighth in a big situation and that mentality,” Matheny said. “I think today could have been a good reminder. I’m sure he’s going to go back into the archives — what it was and how he prepared — and I’m sure he’s anxious to get back out there.”

***

Matheny and Aardsma needed no introduction on Wednesday, as the two were actually teammates during Spring Training 2005. Matheny was a veteran catcher, having just left St. Louis. Aardsma was an up-and-coming, hard-throwing, recent first-round pick.

Aardsma still remembers the first time they met.

“It was an eye-opening experience,” he recalled. “My first time meeting him, he immediately walked up one of the first days and said, ‘Hey, I was watching film on you all winter and I really have some ideas on how you can become a better pitcher and we can work together.’ I was [taken] aback. It was amazing to hear that coming from someone’s mouth as experienced as him, as good as him.”

And did he heed that advice?

“I was young,” Aardsma said. “He really wanted me to work down in the zone. It was great advice. I probably should have worked on it a little bit harder. But at the same time, I threw hard, so it was easy just to rely on the speed instead of the location and learning how to get guys out.”

Matheny did see an eventual evolution.

“He was a hard, hard thrower at that point,” Matheny said. “It was getting up to 100 [mph] or close to it. He was more of a heaver, and what we’ve seen recently is he’s pitching more but still has some good life on the ball.”

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