Winter Warm Up: Sizing Up The Guys
Seeing, Hearing from Cardinals
Another benefit of player presence at the Winter Warm-Up is it gives fans a chance to interact with them for the first time since the end of the previous season. Is David Freese still limping? Has Lance Berkman really slimmed down? Whose new tattoo is better, Kyle Lohse or Chris Carpenter? It really is great to get a glimpse of the players before they head down to Spring Training.
But the Winter Warm-Up functions as the first barometer of how the team is shaping up for Spring Training, too. Many of the players and coaches who appeared at the event take some time to talk with the media before they head home for the rest of the winter. Physical impressions aside, the press conferences give players a chance to answer questions about the offseason, how they’re feeling, what they think about what the team has done (or not done) over the winter, and whatever other pertinent info the host of journalists in the room can come up with.
As is the case every season, the Cardinals’ starters must be healthy and on the field if the team is going to be successful. At the end of the 2010 season, Kyle Lohse was just starting to find himself after recovering from a forearm injury. David Freese had not been on the field in months after injuring both ankles. The team keeps the media up to date on how players progress through the offseason, but on this weekend they had to pass the “eye test” and offer updates in their own words.
Lohse feels he has less uncertainty going into this season. He has worked very hard to continue his rehab and be ready early for Spring Training. Lohse said he used to do forearm exercises as part of his workout routine a couple times per week; now he does them almost every day. He is not throwing off a mound yet, but he is testing the forearm by throwing “firm” yet not airing it out. He hopes to try to “overload it a little bit” in his upcoming pre-Spring Training bullpen sessions.
Freese has also had a long offseason of rehab. He is running, but not full speed and only in a straight line. He will go to Spring Training early; his plan is to be ready for the first preseason game and he has been told that will not be a problem if he keeps progressing like he is. Freese joked that if this was the NFL he thinks he would be listed as “probable.” He knows he can play in the big leagues, he just has to get healthy so he can get on the field and show everyone—coaches, players, fans—he can do it. “I can sit here and say this and say that, but the bottom line is I’ve got to get out there and perform,” Freese said.
Chris Reed is a freelance writer from Belleville, IL who also writes about the Cardinals for InsideSTL on Mondays and Bird Brained whenever he wants. Follow him on Twitter @birdbrained.
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