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WHEELER: Checking In From Jupiter 2-21-12

Kevin Wheeler
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Hello from the land of sunshine…

Every day or two I’ll post some of my observations from Cardinals Camp here on KMOX.com. The later we get in this process, the more there will be to observe and post. I’ve waited a couple of days to post because, well, there’s only so much you can learn about things in the early days of camp unless there is some kind of big news and that’s usually a bad thing this early on.

Here we go:

– Things are running smoothly here. Any changes implemented by Mike Matheny and his staff have largely been subtle ones. The Major League staff is a little younger so there’s a different vibe when you’re around them but when it comes to structure, when it comes to baseball, I think it’s fair to say that Matheny has picked up where Tony LaRussa left off.

– One of the changes this year, and it’s one that Matheny ran by the veterans before implementing it, is that the veteran pitchers aren’t all grouped together like they were in the past. Chris Carpenter and Lance Lynn are in the same group as Tyrell Jenkins and Joe Kelly, for example. Shelby Miller is with Adam Wainwright. Matheny made this move as a means of allowing the Cardinals core group of veterans to show the younger guys what the “Cardinal Way” means at the big league level.

– A couple of the new guys – J.C. Romero and Scott Linebrink – looked good in bullpen sessions yesterday. Keep in mind that “good” is relative at this stage of the spring. They’re veterans so it’s not like we’re really going to learn anything groundbreaking while watching them in Day 2 of pitchers and catchers. When I say guys like that “looked good” it means they threw free and easy and didn’t appear to be struggling with any physical problems.

– 22 year-old catcher Luis De La Cruz is a good looking defensive catcher. He’s small, listed at 5’10″ and 165 pounds, but he’s very fluid behind the plate with excellent quickness when he has to move laterally to block. He’s not been much of a hitter in the minors but he can catch.

– Most of the Cardinals hitting prospects have been here getting plenty of work in: 1B Matt Adams is a big, big man; 2B Kolten Wong isn’t tall but he’s strong and has a lot of life to his actions; 3B Zack Cox looks like he’s gotten a good bit stronger since last spring – if his power comes along he could be a heck of a hitter; SS Ryan Jackson seems to have added a little bit of weight, which is a challenge for the slick fielding right handed hitter – his bat will determine whether or not he has a future as an everyday SS in the big leagues.

– Jon Jay showed up yesterday and is getting some work in today. David Freese and Matt Holliday are both here as well and look like they’re going to do a little today as well. Allen Craig spent a lot of time rehabbing/working out yesterday and seems to have maintained his upper body strength while recovering from knee surgery.

More to come…stay tuned.

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