Cardinals notebook: Birds juggle roster, lineup but win again | St Louis Cardinals - petsitterbank

Cardinals notebook: Birds juggle roster, lineup but win again | St Louis Cardinals

JUPITER, Fla. — Friday’s 5-4 Cardinals exhibition victory over the Washington Nationals had a little something for everybody, including afterward when the Cardinals announced some roster moves.

Dylan Carlson, tried as a leadoff man for the first time, singled and drove in a Cardinals run. Harrison Bader doubled in two runs and singled to set up another. And Paul DeJong, upon whom there are many eyes this spring, also doubled and singled and drove in a run in the Cardinals’ fifth spring win in six games.

Afterward, the Cardinals announced they had signed free-agent utilityman Cory Spangenberg, 31, to a non-roster contract with an invitation to big-league camp, added non-roster righthander Aaron Brooks to the 40-man roster and placed righthander Alex Reyes on the 60-day list injured because of a sore right shoulder.

Spangenberg is another left-handed hitter in a bench/DH mix, which also includes Corey Dickerson, Lars Nootbaar, Brendan Donovan and Nolan Gorman, who went hitless again and is two for 16 this spring.

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All the aforementioned will not be on the club when it breaks camp after a game here on April 5.

Spangenberg has a .256 career average with 29 homers in 419 games with San Diego and Milwaukee and played with the Seibu Lions in Japan for the last two seasons. He had 15 homers in 2020 but hit only .223 with seven homers last season.

From a pitching standpoint Friday, Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol chose to employ rotation pitcher Miles Mikolas in a camp game on the back fields and start free-agent signee Drew VerHagen.

VerHagen, reputed to be a strike thrower, had 27 strikes in 36 pitches. Two of them ended up over the wall for home runs but his outing, sort of an audition for him as a fifth starter, was solid enough to keep him in the forefront of that competition.

“I like VerHagen’s stuff,” said Marmol. “We saw some really good action on that breaking ball, both the slider and the curveball. Some of the sliders and breaking balls are pretty drastic to what the average is at the big-league level. The break on that breaking ball is real.”

VerHagen said team president of baseball operations John Mozeliak told VerHagen he would get a chance to compete for a starting job and, after one relief outing, he, indeed was starting on the big stage.

The former Detroit Tigers pitcher spent two seasons in Japan and he said, “I was 100% on my own. I didn’t have one visitor for two years. The borders were closed. There were a lot of guys that left, that said, ‘I don’t care. You can keep the money I’m going home.’ Helped the foreigners over there just left.

“I don’t want to toot my own horn, but yeah you have to be tough to stick it out and it’s a lonely, lonely experience.”

And now he has a chance to pitch for a big-league contender.

“I’ve only been here not even two weeks and the entire culture of this locker room is so different than anything I’ve been around in pro ball,” he said. “You can see it from the top down. There is one goal in mind here and that’s to win, to win a World Series. It’s very professional and I love it.”

Helsley, Bosiokovic make an impressionRyan Helsley, pitching for the first time since August when his season ended because of elbow problems — he also had a bad knee — worked a scoreless inning Friday.

“We’re going to need to see him step up and take some big innings late in games for us,” Marmol said.

The save went to 6-foot-5, 240-pound right-hander Jacob Bosiokovic. He is a former first baseman/outfielder with the Colorado Rockies, who converted him to a pitcher in 2019 before the Cardinals plucked him in the minor-league version of the Rule V draft. Bosiokovic, who short-arms the ball, has improved his velocity into the mid-90s, catching the attention of scouts from other clubs.

“They were wasting that arm at first (base),” Marmol said.

Explaining the Rockies’ move, Bosiokovic, who had 15 home runs in 2017 in the South Atlantic League, cited his high strikeout total. When he hit those 15 home runs, he also struck out 145 times in 341 at-bats.

Cabrera down, Hicks upVeteran lefthander Genesis Cabrera, whose velocity was down three or ticks, had a perfect inning.

“We saw that it was down a little bit. Not sure yet. No red flags, as far as health,” Marmol said. “It wouldn’t surprise me next time if he went and did 99 (mph).”

Former closer Jordan Hicks, who is trying to make another comeback from elbow problems, had a good bullpen session and is about ready for game competition, said Marmol.

“His velocity. … I’m not sure where it was, but, from behind, I didn’t want to step in the box,” Marmol said. Hicks told reporters he had hit 99 mph.

Molina has ‘still got it’

Mikolas gave up three runs and four hits in the first inning but nothing over the next three innings, throwing four innings in which 36 of his 47 pitches were strikes. His catcher was Yadier Molina, who threw out Ben DeLuzio trying to steal second base.

“He’s still got it,” Mikolas said. “It’s always fun to hear that ball whiz by your head and then watch a guy get thrown out.”

Mikolas said he had been badgering backup catcher Andrew Knizner to join him on the back fields for the game.

“And then when I found that I was getting Yadi, I was like, ‘Kiz, you’re fired,'” Mikolas said.

Molina, who will play a big-league game for the first time Sunday in Port St. Lucie, Florida, against the New York Mets and both Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer, was nothing for four against three pitchers, two of the at-bats coming against new lefthander Packy Naughton, just acquired on waivers from the Los Angeles Angels.

Later, the Cardinals optioned Naughton and righthanders Johan Quezada, Angel Rondon and TJ Zeuch to Class AAA Memphis and assigned lefthander Zack Thompson to minor league camp.

DeJong’s almost startDeJong had two hits Friday, he is four for 10 with one strikeout and hitting the ball to all fields.

“He has a lot more conviction to what he’s doing,” Marmol said. “He’s trusting himself a lot more. He’s taken this spring very seriously and he knows what’s at stake and he’s taken advantage of it.”

(Derrick Goold and Daniel Guerrero contributed to this report).


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