Posted on 19 January 2014.
The second day of the Cardinals Care Winter Warm Up getting underway today, with a new slate of Cardinals set to make appearances and visit with the media as well. As was the plan yesterday, I-70’s coverage will be a four-tiered experience, shared through the site, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
Today also marks the one year anniversary of the passing of Stan Musial, which will surely be a moment of note at today’s event, and in the Cardinal community at large.
Follow I-70 on Facebook here, while coverage on Twitter will be shared between @I70Baseball and @CheapSeatFan. The Instagram account for content is also ‘CheapSeatFan’.
The scheduled players to appear today are: Allen Craig, Shelby Miller, Jason Motte, Matt Carpenter, Matt Adams, Joe Kelly, Shane Robinson, Lance Lynn, Kolten Wong, Jon Jay, Tony Cruz, Eric Fornataro, Tyler Lyons, Jermaine Curtis and Carlos Martinez
He stated that he has continued working on redefining his weight and diet balance with team physicians and is doing team monitored workouts. Yet in regards to his overall health, he feels good and his elbow is in shape again. However, he could continue wearing an elbow brace for precautionary purposes.
“The big thing I’m working on is seeing lefty pitching better and seeing the lefty slider down and away.” He began swinging just before Christmas and has even employed college left-handed pitchers come to throw live pitching and sliders.
On combating the shift, he does not anticipate a very radical change in approach, and believes that is the deception that the alignment is meant to create. “You’ve just got to go with the ball wherever its pitched, and not fall in the trap of trying to hit it based on where guys are playing me.”
Regarding his opportunity to be the everyday first baseman, it is “a huge opportunity. You’ve just got to go with it, run with it and go down ready to perform and fight for a job.”
Despite the growing number of outfield candidates, it is business as usual for Robinson in his regard to competing for a spot on the club. “I’m positive about it. I don’t really think about it too much, but the addition of another outfielder makes it more complicated.” He states he is accustomed to being in competitions to make the team, and this year should be no different.
In regards to his place in the starting rotation, he is taking the same approach as he did last year, and doesn’t see any change in what he needs to do. “Spring training is a very long time, and having your body healthy and arm healthy is most important.”
In regards to competing for a rotation spot, he continued that it is not a way that he looks at the team “Everybody else puts numbers behind pitchers, but I don’t do that. I don’t look at a pitcher and say he’s a one or he’s five. But I’m not going to cut myself short, I’m going to go out there and try to take Waino’s spot.”
About his success late last year, “it gave me confidence,” Kelly said. “It gives you some swagger out there and you go out to do the best that you can.”
He had a busy offseason, which featured him getting married, but experiencing an earthquake at his offseason home, in nearby Fontana, California. In addition to this, there were brush fires which burned 1200 acres of land close to his home as well—less than 10 miles away in Glendora.
In regards to the Cardinals as a fit for him in free agency: “The biggest attraction was the young pitching staff, anchored by Adam Wainwright.” He said the experience of facing them in the National League Championship Series was a big influence. “I’ve never played in a World Series, and I feel this is my best chance to do it.”
He was surprised that the Cardinals contacted him, due to the presence of Matt Carpenter and the season he was coming off of. He continued that when the team contacted him, it did change his plans and outlook on the market.
While being a mentor is a part of being a veteran that he acknowledges and is s, it is not his goal to be solely that and he will compete for time. “I don’t think that anybody still playing wants to be a mentor. The club told me they are high on Kolten (Wong), but you want to go out there and compete and help the team get to the ultimate goal.”
While second base has been his primary position, he is open to playing other positions as well if the scenario comes up. “I was a minor league shortstop all the way through and played third base in college, so I can play anywhere needed.” He said the team talked to him a bit about it, but not extensively.
On former teammate Clayton Kershaw’s landmark contract, he stated that while being careful about what he says regarding him since he will be playing against him now, he is “as perfect of a ballplayer as you can have”, and he works as hard as any player he’s ever seen and is an incredible teammate. He continued on to compare his approach and personality to what he knows of Adam Wainwright.
Regarding what his role will be with the team this year and what he is preparing to be, he is working hard to be a part of the mix for the starting rotation, a role that he has used the winter ball in the Dominican Republic. “I wanted to pitch to more quality guys so that I would be ready to compete for a spot,” he said via an interpreter.
Martinez was not mix on what role he would like to have in the upcoming season. “Being a reliever is easier. As a starter, it’s a different mindset. I have to pace myself a little bit more, but I always wanted to be a starter and hopefully I get that opportunity this year.
In regards to the difference in his success late in the season upon returning to the majors, he gives credit to more comfort with his off speed pitches. “(I’m) trying to grow confidence on it to throw it in any count, and be a lot more effective and grow with it.”
(There will be more on Shelby’s comments on the 2013 postseason in a separate piece)
He did an aggressive strength building program throughout the offseason, building more muscle span than he had previously.
In regards to his innings pitched span last year, which set a career-high, he felt he limited himself some in that regard, over any effort from the team to do so. He put blame on his innings count being low due to outings where he threw too many pitches to get through a sort amount of innings, and that reaching 200 innings pitched this year is his personal goal.
While he hasn’t worked on expanding his arsenal at all, he does intended to potentially work on a sinker in the spring to create more groundballs.
He intends on starting the process towards throwing this Tuesday, and will build from there. He does not anticipate a normal Spring Training regime. It is truly a day-by-day process, and the next step will be based on the result from the previous one with no timetable on the long end.
Despite the time away from the game, he said it was not a difficult experience, due to the time he got to spend with family and working with his Foundation. “If you’d asked me a couple of years ago, I may have been chomping at the bit, but it is not that tough now.”
He stresses the difference in the rehabilitation process for a relief from a starting pitcher, in that there is a more constant need from a reliever, thus making being prepared for complete comeback very critical. “Relieving is a bit different, as once you’re in it, you’re in it. And if a need comes up for you again the next day, you need to be able to say you feel good to get out there.”
He has consulted with both Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter on the expectation of returns, and what to expect in the process.
He stated that he was informed by Mike Matheny before the decision was made to make Trevor Rosenthal the closer to enter the season, and that it is a decision he is in line with. “He hasn’t done anything any different; it’s not a surprise that he has been able to pitch the way he has.” He said that Matheny called him directly to tell him first, before making the announcement official.
While he said he felt good throughout the postseason, he did take a longer time off than in any other year.
He regards the move back to third base as a “homecoming” and he doesn’t anticipate much transition period at all, due to his comfort at the position. “I’m excited. Third has been home for me my entire career except for last year and I’m looking forward to it.”
While he has moved on from second base, he regards the experience at his now former position as “rewarding”, and that it aided him in learning pitches and moving along with the game from a new position.
On repeating his breakout season, he places it as a strong motivating factor. “Obviously the expectation has been set, and I am looking forward to meeting it and exceeding it.”
The Silver Slugger was a high for his season, ranking it as a season high point along with the All-Star Game. “It was a surreal, can’t believe I accomplished it, type of thing.”
Regarding the trade to acquire Peter Bourjos, “It’s the same it has always been, I’m going to show up and be ready to compete. It is one of those situations where we are trying to do whatever it takes to win.” He states that Matheny reached out to him about the deal, and he was receptive to the situation. “As a player, you want to win and I’ll go out there and be prepared to win.”
About his production decline last season, he stressed “The effort was there, and the while the results weren’t there as they’d been in the past, in the second half my numbers got back to where they were in the past.”
About his shift to right field, he has no reservations about his foot injury and that he feels fine now compared to October. However, he did take an extra month off to give it time to heal, which delayed his time to start training for the spring.
About the switch from an everyday perspective, “I’m excited to get out to the outfield and run around a bit. As long as I’m healthy, it doesn’t really matter to me what position I play.” He anticipates doing a bit more long toss to prepare for more throws, but also taking groundballs to stay ready to work at first base as well.
Regarding the changes to the everyday lineup, “One thing we have been able to do well is adapt over the last few years.”
About whether he sees himself as a starter or a reliever, he is absolutely clear on that he sees himself as only a starter “I’m a starter, so that’s it.”
About if he considers himself a veteran part of the rotation, he stressed that “I am a bit older than some of the guys, but nobody is a veteran in this league at 26.”
That’s it on the new news front today. Come back tomorrow for the final installment of the Progressive Day Blog with content from Matt Holliday, Mike Matheny and Michael Wacha among others.
More to come shortly….