The second day of the Cardinals Winter Warm Up brought on even more players to the annual event. Outside of the passing and impact of Stan Musial, popular topics for the day on the upcoming season, popular topics included the competition for the fifth starting position, which included three of the candidates for the role offering their take on their chances for it.
Joe Kelly: Is open to pitching in both the rotation and the bullpen, and there is an appeal to pitching every day possibly in the bullpen. He went on to state the transition from starter to reliever is easier from a preparation perspective. He understands there will be a tough competition for spots on the pitching staff, and feels he is “probably the most competitive guy on the team”.
Shelby Miller: The three-time top organizational prospect said that strength improvement was his top focus this winter. In discussing his slow start to 2012, he takes responsibility for being in bad shape calling his frame a “beach bod” shape, which was no good for him to be a starting pitcher. He came into camp light at 204 pounds, but is up to 223 this year.
As far as what he learned from his early difficulties, Miller affirmed “I didn’t really struggle at any point in the minor leagues except in Memphis in the first half. I was probably one of the most stubborn guys ever seen.” And in regards to why it took so long to work out, he revealed “I wasn’t a happy person but I blame myself for that.” Said he is thankful for his struggle, as he gained perspective from them.
Trevor Rosenthal: Has been training in St. Louis with Chris Carpenter this winter, and has been working out at Busch for eight hours a day. He complimented Carpenter’s intensity and regime as helping him take strides to be ready for any roll on the team.
In regards to his postseason success as a reliever, after making the conversion from minor league starter, he gave credit to Adam Wainwright for helping him ease into the roll: “One of the main conversations we had going into the postseason was to keep doing what I’ve been doing. Don’t try to change anything, trust my stuff and go out there and do what I’m used to.”
In other player news to prime for Spring Training:
Jon Jay: Stated that playing next to Carlos Beltran, a three-time Gold Glove center fielder, was a definite bonus in him taking strides forward as defender. After having troubles with his shoulder mid-season in 2012, he says it is fully healthy now with no restrictions.
Jordan Swagerty: The 2010 second round pick, who missed all of last summer due to Tommy John surgery, stated he threw 60 pitches, all maximum effort, this month. He continued on that his breaking pitches not as sharp, but they are coming back around. In regards to whether he will return as a starter or reliever this year, he has “no idea what they have in store for me. I like to do both, but I got a little bit of a closer’s mentality.”
Pete Kozma: In regards to his experience being thrust into the starting lineup for the final months of the season, he stated that the intensity of the games was a shock, but over the experience was very memorable. As for his place in this year’s club, he sees versatility as his ally, and is encouraged by the fact the team didn’t add anything via free agency or trades in the middle infield.
Jake Westbrook: Stated that he would have been healthy to participate in the World Series if the club had reached it, and perhaps could have been available in the NLCS as well. In regards to being back with the club after the club activating his option for 2013 late last season, “I couldn’t be happier. I love playing here and it’s good to continue on in St. Louis.”
Westbrook later on said he enjoys his role in the background of the rotation this season, but is surprised about Kyle Lohse still not being signed.
Edward Mujica: Entering his second season with the club, Mujica Says that Mike Matheny gave him a lot of confidence when he came to St. Louis, and that knowing he would be pitching the 6th and 7th innings helped tremendously from a preparation stand point. He is also excited to have Randy Choate rejoin him in the bullpen, and that Choate contacted him before signing with the club. The two were teammates in Miami last season.
Mitchell Boggs: On the subject of his path from fighting to a bullpen spot to leading the National League in holds last season, he says nothing has changed in his approach to spring training. “The thought process doesn’t change at all. Last year was very positive, but it’s not something I’m going to hang my hat on. I expect to be great again.” He elaborated further stating, “It helps to know every single day to know what your role is going to be. But at the same time, you have to go out there and be ready for everything and be focused on what it takes to get the job done.”
He made a clear turning point in the success of the Cardinal bullpen a year ago, pointing to the acquisition of Mujica as key: “Adding Mujica was huge for us. He stabilized our bullpen and gave us another proven arm that could go out there night in and night out. We took off as a bullpen when we got him.”
On the subject of being selected to Team USA’s roster for the World Baseball Classic, he stated felt it was something he takes a lot of pride in and an opportunity he was very excited to accept. He said when talked to Matheny he was “extremely supportive” of his opportunity. He added that the opportunity to be coached by Greg Maddux and Dale Murphy was a bonus as well, as he grew up a Braves fan in Dalton, Georgia.