Spring Training Report: First Week a Successful One for Cardinals

It’s never a bad time to string some wins together, even if it is Spring Training and the games don’t count. But the St. Louis Cardinals, behind a surprisingly strong performance from its starting rotation, have won 6 of their last 8 games, posting an early 6-3 record early in the second full week of play. That’s good enough for 3rd place in the Grapefruit League.

The Cardinals have had plenty of bright spots this spring, perhaps none more important than the performances handed in by Kyle McClellan and Kyle Lohse. With much of the Cardinals’ fan base in full-blown panic mode after the team lost perennially Cy Young candidate and staff ace, Adam Wainwright, to season ending elbow surgery, it was a little reassuring to see Lohse and McClellan shutdown the opposing lineups (even if it was only for a few innings in the Spring).

Another reassuring sign: the return of David Freese, and perhaps some stability, to 3rd base. The native St. Louisan turned in 2 hits and 3 RBIs in his first game with Tony La Russa’s squad since last June. The club is planning an interesting schedule for Freese, who’s coming off two ankle surgeries. La Russa says he’ll play about 2 out of every 3 games for most, if not all, of the 2011 season. With Nick Punto out for at least two months, it could present a bit of a tryout for many of the Cardinals’ 3rd base prospects, namely Matt Carpenter.

It’s hard to believe that three weeks from today, the Cardinals will be flying into Springfield, Missouri for one final tune up before heading to St. Louis for the Home Opener. That’s right, first pitch is 23 days away. Yes, I’m counting.

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