Cardinals Winter Warm Up Progressive Blog – Day 3

WWU

The Cardinals Winter Warm Up has officially wrapped up at the Hyatt Regency in downtown St. Louis, and next stop for the gear up for baseball season will be when spring training opens up in Jupiter, Florida next month.

Wrapping things up, here’s a look at comments from the last Cardinals to make their way through the doors for the WWU:

10:30: Kevin Siegrist

Regarding his heavy workload in 2015, Siegrist believes he could replicate that load if needed again this year, as well as being comfortable being utilized in any fashion out of the bullpen:

“I made sure to take enough time off before getting back into it, but every offseason you start to feel the itch. So it is hard to just rest during the offseason.”

“I felt fine physically throughout the year, so I believe I could pitch at the same volume I did last year again.”

“I had to feel how my arm felt physically a year ago, but this year I just can work on my pitches and refine those instead.”

“I got a lot of experience in pitching in almost every role last year. Whatever role they want to put me in I’m fine with.”

11:25: Mike Leake

On coming over to St. Louis with a long-term contract:

“Watching the last five and half years is what sold me on wanting to come here. Seeing the team ready to play every time we played them and I couldn’t say the same about every other team. This team is a special team and a team that everyone should want to play for.”

Regarding the five-year, $80M deal that he signed to join the club, Leake expressed not feeling any correlation between performance pressure and the value of his contract:

“It’s nice to know I don’t have to worry for the next few years. Definitely going to a new team and meet new guys, you try to guestimate what they’ll be like, but you just have to be yourself.”

“The comfort is a part of it, but you still have to live up to the contract. The contract to me is over and done with. The money is never a big thing for me, I am going to compete to get better every day. I’m not going to try to live up to the money. The game is going to keep progressing and you never know, my money may end up being the low end of it before long.”

Being a part of the National League Central since 2010, Leake expressed that his view of the Cardinals previously as being one mostly from the position of chase:

“I always thought we were chasing the Cardinals. Maybe in 2010 and a bit of 2012 we were ahead, but I always saw the Cardinals as the main threat of the division.”

Looking forward, he does not see the NL Central being as widely competitive of a division as it has been in recent years, albeit not one that has not lowered in competitive potential:

“Us and the Cubs that are the main fighters, and the Pirates are here and will stay in there and fight as well. The other two are in the works of trying to be better teams, but I think we will see three clubs fighting it out instead of five like in previous years.”

Noon: Jhonny Peralta

On the toll last year took on him and if he would anticipate any lowered amount of playing time this year:

“I played a lot of games, but I always like to play a lot of games. I don’t want to say tired, but when you play a lot of games like that (it wears on you).”

With the addition of Jedd Gyorko, Peralta sees it as an opportunity to upgrade at multiple positions from both a depth and production perspective:

“He is going to help a lot with helping to get some rest for me, Kolten and at third with Carp. I think he’s going to be good to have.”

Looking forward, Peralta is open to being more versatile in what positions he makes himself available at, including revisiting some that he had previously played as well:

“In the future I can play some different positons. I’ve played third base and outfield before and a couple of games at first base. As long as I stay in the game, it doesn’t matter to me.”

“Whatever part of the lineup I hit in feels good for me. We have a good lineup and good players, so in spring training we will see what works best for me.”

12:20: Jedd Gyorko

On coming over to the Cardinals and why playing in St. Louis is such an attractive proposition:

“I’ve always enjoyed playing here. It was always a place I would circle when looking at the schedule, and the fans bring the best out of you. Great baseball players want to be around great baseball people, and I don’t think there are none better than here.”

Gyorko says he was surprised by the trade regardless of the struggles he had last year. He says he doesn’t think that his demotion last year in San Diego was a ‘wakeup call’, but that it was just about correcting some things in his swing.

In regards to where he sees himself fitting in with the Cardinals, Gyorko is preparing for time across the entire infield:

“It’s going to be more important than it ever has in my career. I’m going to be moving around a lot this year it sounds like, but I just want to get on the field anyway I can to help the team out. I’m pretty comfortable with any place on the infield.”

“I’ve simplified things in my swing a lot. Especially since now I’ll be coming off the bench more, simplifying things in my swing was a very important thing.”

1:00: Carlos Martinez

Martinez spoke without the aid of a translator. He says he works often to learn a few words and that speaking with his teammates and Mike Matheny is important in teaching him.

Regarding the shoulder injury that ended his year early last season, Martinez said that it is currently at 90% and he anticipates it being at 100% by spring training. He will be traveling to the team’s Jupiter training facility to begin his throwing for the year on Tuesday.

“It was really hard, because I want to compete and help the Cardinals. It was really hard for me.”

Regarding having a firm role in the Cardinal rotation, as opposed to having to compete for a position as he did a year ago, Martinez is confident in what each starter has to bring:

“I know and we know that we have good stuff in the rotation. We have a good team right now, and you just go to compete with each and I believe in all of my teammates. My goal is just to work hard and compete on the mound.”

1:45: Mike Matheny

Matheny expressed that he sees team’s starting pitching as a strength, even in light of the loss of Lance Lynn to Tommy John surgery for the season:

“I think whenever you have a healthy Adam Wainwright, that’s a difference off top, as well as is bringing in a Mike Leake. You hate to lose Lance, who’s just a horse and I think still has his best stuff ahead of him. But we believe Mike is a guy that is going to come in here and bring some great things.”

Regarding the desire for Kolten Wong to compete for the leadoff spot in the lineup, Matheny sees it as a sign of positive internal competitiveness on the team:

“I love it. I’m challenging these guys all the time about what is the player that they want to be, get a good idea of what that the looks like and then let us help you become that. Put those goals and aspirations together, and then they are able to go and make radical transformations to their games.”

“We have some very selfless players, and for me to hear that from Kolten show me he is looking at the landscape of our club and wonder ‘how can I jump in and help this more’? And he thinks that being at the top of the order can help us go out try some other things.”

“We take what we’ve got and continue to build on that. There are opportunities that can about all of the time, especially in spring training. So there will be opportunities for Kolten, but I want to see him and see what our needs our and put it all together.”

However, Matheny’s most profuse praise for the day was reserved for Matt Holliday and optimism for his 2016 season:

“I think we are going to see a ridiculous year from Matt Holliday. With the way the ball comes off his bat, he is able to do things that other people can’t. Add in the motivation that he was not able to have the season that he wanted a year ago, and it’s going to be exciting to see, we just have to keep him on the field.”

On being seen as an ‘underdog’ entering the season in the NL Central:

“It doesn’t affect us. We could get up there and talk about it in front of our guys as some sort of motivation speech, but its more about what our guys think of themselves and level of expectations we have.”

“With that said, it is at least semi-entertaining. We are talking about a team that has won more games than anybody in either league, but now all of a sudden everybody is putting us down the list. But we are looking at things we have brought in that are going to enhance what we have. But we are the type of club that wants to get out there and show it.”

In characterizing how he sees the competition for first base, he anticipates that Stephen Piscotty could factor into seeing some time there, but that the everyday race is between Brandon Moss and Matt Adams:

“Brandon Moss is going to get plenty of looks, and so is Matt Adams. And having Moss available lets us get more flexible in the outfield too.”

(More from Matheny to follow in upcoming weeks)

2:30: Trevor Rosenthal

Looking back at the end of 2015 and if it carries over into this season, Rosenthal sees it both in terms of an opportunity missed, but nothing that creates any extra motivation for being ready for this year:

“I don’t think we need any extra motivation, but knowing how close our division was last year, we definitely want to come out on top again. 100 wins in one of the toughest divisions in baseball is something to hang your hat on and we want to be right back there again.”

On the playoff series and not being a part of some key parts of losses:

“It’s tough, especially for how much our bullpen played into the season. There were inconsistencies from our bullpen that you didn’t see throughout the season.”

“That’s where the starting mentality comes into play for me. It’s hard to sit out there and not be able to contribute until the phone rings and you get an opportunity.”

On the changing dynamics of the bullpen this year, which will feature several established veterans gone and some younger members (in years) stepping into new roles:

“It’s going to be a much different look. Fortunately we have Broxton back, which is a guy with a ton of experience and its going to be fun to learn from Oh with the experience he has too. But most importantly guys are going to have to step up and fill that leadership role. But the core group of Siegrist, Maness and myself that have been on these postseason runs are going to have to step up and take responsibility on what we want this bullpen to look like.”

On a multi-year contract possibilities, he says he hasn’t thought much about it and has not had a conversation about it. Otherwise, he will be here for the next three years and is pleased to have that opportunity. Rosenthal settled with the Cardinals on a $5.6 million salary for the 2016 season to avoid arbitration.

 

That’s it from the Winter Warm Up press interviews for this year. Stay tuned for much more content and exclusives from this year’s WWU in the upcoming weeks and throughout the spring.

Author: Matt Whitener

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