Diamond Diaries

Cardinal baseball, from the girls

Tag Archives: Lance Lynn

St Louis Cardinals, Spring Training 2014

A quick post to share player photos from our recent trip to sunny Jupiter, Florida – the Spring Training home of our beloved St. Louis Cardinals.  Photos (from the February 28th game against the Marlins and the March 2nd game against the Mets.)

Coming soon:  Photo diary with tips on how to be a baseball tourist in and around Jupiter Florida, Roger Dean stadium and the practice back fields.  (LINK HERE)

Click on any photo to enlarge and/or to shift through larger photos one at a time.  Enjoy!

Baseball is back!!  🙂

Spring Training Warm-Ups


lindsey twitter photo
Baseball fever is making a comeback now that the boys are kicking it in Florida for Spring Training, and this week my dear friend (and Cardinals fan), Lindsey, asked (again) when Diamond Diaries would be back in action.  Without much arm-twisting at all, she agreed to write a guest post for us as sort of our own 2013 season kick-off.  And as you will soon see, smart,sassy and lovable Lindsey, an early victim of baseball fever this year, is ready to chat it up, Cardinals style.  P.S. If you aren’t already, you can follow Lindsey on twitter: @LoveAlwaysGives

 So, Welcome Back!!  And welcome, Lindsey!  =)    ~Erika

>Counting Baseball BlessingsWe’ve started out another Spring Training with the stomach-knotting stressor named, The Unsigned Contract Extension. This time, for Adam Wainwright. Waino is one of those players I could never lose faith in. I’ll admit that I was a bit nervous for the guy when we all found out about his Tommy John surgery. I still remember that moment when my heart fell into my stomach wondering, Could this be it for Waino? But then I snapped back to reality and realized who I was talking about. Waino is bueno, after all. I can see where the problem lies, he’s a pitcher just coming off of elbow surgery with a year left in his contract. Could that be more nerve wracking? He needs to be set to impress. Although a contract has yet to be signed, I’m ready to see some Wainwright action out on the mound this year. Let’s not forget, Mo…It’s ain’t right til it’s Wainwright!

lance-lynn-regular- (2)

photo from robrains.com

And hey, has anyone seen Lance Lynn around h—OH MY! Talk about a transformation! Catching my first full spring training game yesterday, I momentarily thought Garcia was pitching until I saw those four red letters: L-Y-N-N. My jaw immediately dropped. I think we all knew of the 40 pound weight loss Lance underwent throughout his offseason dieting and work out program when an interview came out stating his rather, uhm, confident outlook on where he stood in being a part of the starting rotation for the 2013 season. Reading and hearing about that type of weight loss is a lot different than seeing it out on the mound. Although he’s lacking the backside of Jaime Garcia, I do believe I’ll be seeing more Lance Lynn related #chickcomments popping up on my twitter feed this year. Here’s to hoping this season can start just as strongly as the last. Put those new muscles to work, Lynn!

Oh hey, David! I see you’ve been taking advantage of that Florida sunshine…and that strong man workout paid off for ya…

Ahem. Getting back to what I was saying…

photo from stltoday.com

photo from stltoday.com

I can’t even imagine the conversation between Yadier and Bengie Molina when they found out the good news that Bengie would be appointed Assistant Hitting Coach for the Cardinals this year. No, really, I can’t. I don’t speak Spanish. Nevertheless, I know I was pretty excited to hear we would have the Molina Brothers team effort this year, even if only one of them will make it onto the field. We don’t need no stinking Mark McGwire! Mabry and Molina have got it covered. As long as Bengie isn’t a running coach, I’ve got the faith! In all seriousness, I think all of Cardinal Nation knows the bond between the Molina family is something incredible and with the addition of his brother, I have no doubt that Yadi will be in even more high spirits to go out on the field every day and make his familia proud.

Speaking of families, it’s been quite the offseason for our hairiest member, Mr. Jason Motte. Unlike his teammates, this doesn’t have to do with his physique, work out regimen or contract status. Jason became a father. That’s right, our heat-throwing, ungroomed bear of a closer now changes diapers in his off time. And he couldn’t be happier about it! I predict little Miss Margret Morgan Motte (say that three times fast) is going to be a daddy’s girl in years to come, because he just can’t seem to get enough of his little girl.

Photo by Michael Donahue

Photo by Michael Donahue

Not only is fatherhood the only step forward in Jason’s life, but his charity work is in full swing as well. Throughout last season Jason and his wife, Caitlin, began collecting sports memorabilia to hold an auction called Strike Out Cancer, benefitting the Wings Cancer Foundation. The $37,000 they raised at their first benefit will go to expanding the organization into lower income communities. That is quite a big impact to make with their first endeavor, and there is surely more to come from these two.

Now, in true Erika fashion, it would be wrong not to mention that former Cardinal shortstop, Brendan Ryan knocked one out of the park in his first at-bat for the Seattle Mariners this spring training. You’ve still got it, Boog! Keep ‘em comin!

There is just something remarkable about seeing baseball on my tv again. Although there is still snow in my back yard, and the sunshine has yet to be found, I just can’t help but have something to look forward to on every game day. And it’s baseball. I can only believe that the transformations the guys have gone through this offseason will show onto the field in the 2013 season. We’ve got new birds and new bats, so we are set to make this one a season to remember!

Winter Warm-Up, Day 1

The Cardinals’ Winter Warm-Up kicked off today at the Hyatt Regency in downtown St. Louis. Throngs of Cardinal fans, all clad in red and looking for a midwinter baseball boost crowded the 2nd and 4th floors to see favorite baseball players, buy souvenirs, collect autographs and talk ball.

As I mentioned earlier in the week (click HERE for that post), I have had varying levels of anxiety mixed with complete joy over the Cardinals’ invitation to cover the event as a credentialed member of “the press”.

My Winter Warm-Up began at the St. Louis airport, where while waiting for my bags I looked up to see Tyler Greene walking my way.  I of course greeted him with a warm “Hi Tyler.” He stopped, smiled, said “Hi,” and paused…

(This “press” thing had me all confused!  Here I’d been working on suppressing fan tendencies all week in preparation for WWU, yet there I was at the airport dressed in my not-fan press’ly attire mentally preparing to be professional and what happens? I run into one of the Cardinals.  My mind short-circuits, knowing this was not the place to ask my prepared interview questions. So…. what to do???)

I went with the obvious, and brilliantly asked him if he was on his was to WWU.  Small, mundane chatter. My mental dialogue is sarcastically critical: “Perfect, Erika.”  Tyler answers, smiles again. and pauses…  (I am not blocking his way. promise.)  We established what time he was signing autographs & I finally (mercifully) waved him on his way, ending with a mostly fan-like “I’ll see you there!”  ugh.

Awkward Tyler Greene airport conversation.  My WWU is starting off oddly.

I arrived at the Hyatt around noon, dropped my bags in the room, grabbed my camera, my spare iphone (voice recorder) and all the questions I had worked on for the day’s listed player interviews. (The players come to the press area after signing autographs and answer questions, as time allows.  Well actually, I thought the players would come after signing, but learned that they may instead come to the interview area before scheduled WWU autograph sessions.  [lesson #1]  So, I was a bit disappointed to discover that I had already missed interview opportunities with minor leaguers Jordan Swagerty, Zack Cox, and Ryan Jackson (yep, they missed out on those amazing questions I had prepared for them) as well as the big boys, Chris Carpenter and Rafael Furcal.

Despite studying maps of the layout beforehand, I was lost in the crowd on the 2nd floor while hunting for the spot to pick up my credentials.  Who should come to the rescue, but Matt Sebek (there with Josh Bacott to hunt their Joe SportsFan WWU bread-and-butter:  the elusive, but always rewarding Unusual Cardinal Fan photos).  With good directions from Sebek, I found the lovely Cardinals Care volunteers who handed over my credentials, and I was off to the 4th floor!  … into another crowd, and lost. again.  A text to a friendly blogger buddy: Kevin (covering the WWU for Daniel Shoptaw’s site: C70 at the Bat) helped me find my way to the media work room.  I had arrived!  Late, but ready to hit the ground running!

I spent the next 20-30 minutes hearing what I had missed and waiting for my first media scrum.  Yep, the word is “scrum”.  Apparently that is the term used to describe how the press crowds around a player to ask questions and record soundbites.   It isn’t actually as horribly nasty as it sounds, but the experienced scrummers definitely had an advantage and there is most assuredly a scrum pecking order.  The pros were up close, on the player’s immediate right or left.  The television cameras had front and center.  The tall guys holding the microphones were in front.  This, of course, made it hard on us shorter folk left in the back. However, later in the afternoon, I found a loophole:  stand on a chair. [lesson #3] (I was assured by Brian Stull of 101 ESPN in St. Louis that standing on a chair was perfectly acceptable and he would take the blame if it was not.)  I believe he was right because another (more seasoned-looking) photographer stood on a chair next to me during Adam Wainwright’s scrum time.  When in Rome….  😉

My first scrum experience was with John Mozeliak, the Cardinals’ GM.  As advised by my fellow newly credentialed blogger comrades, I set my iphone recorder on the podium and managed to snag a prime position with a clear shot of Mo – right next to the tv cameras (beginners luck).

Mozeliak talked for over 20 minutes.  Topics ranging from the opening at second base, to Yadier Molina’s no-show (again) at WWU and including bits about Kyle McClellan- is he staying or going?, how he (Mo) felt when he got the call that Albert had accepted the deal with the Angels, and the future of the organization with all the offseason staffing/coaching changes.

I learned that John Mozeliak really likes to talk about Tyler Greene’s athleticism and his being a superb athlete.  When asked about the 2B options for 2012, Mo was insistent that Tyler Greene would have every opportunity to get more playing time in 2012 and went on to be very supportive of Greene and his potential.  This ode to Tyler Greene caught me off guard, as it seemed to shock others in the room as well because Mo was then questioned about Greene’s prior chances to prove himself.  I am proud to say that I did speak up and ask Mo what getting Tyler Greene more playing time would mean for Daniel Descalso.  In response, Mo praised Descalso’s contributions, emphasizing his abililty to play multiple positions, but finished up with another nod to Tyler Greene’s ability to ALSO play multiple positions.  From the sounds of it, Spring Training may bring quite the battle for 2B, which at this time is “open”.

Another tantalizing tidbit from Mo’s moments:  Yadi will be making a donation to the Cardinals Care fund since he has backed out of Winter Warm-Up this year.  (All proceeds from the Annual Winter Warm-Up benefit Cardinals Care, the team’s community foundation supporting kids.)  Mo also mentioned that Yadi doesn’t like to do public autograph sessions, which although not surprising, was disappointing to hear (from a fan’s perspective, which I would never admit to while being a member of the press.) But truthfully, Yadi… what gives??

I did discover lesson #2 after the Mozeliak ditty:  “when hurriedly putting your voice recorder on the podium prior to the scrummage, you should check to make sure it is actually recording.” In the excitement of it all, I thought I hit the little red button.  I did not.  And that is why I am relying on memory here for the Mozeliak interview…  (consider that my disclaimer).  You can check out the links below from the other Cardinal bloggers who were smart enough to turn on their recorders.

Matt Carpenter, Lance Lynn

My 2nd scrum was less informative and cut short.  Matt Carpenter (AAA Memphis), pitcher Lance Lynn and the previously-showered-with-Mo-love Tyler Greene all came in together about 10 minutes before their scheduled autograph sessions.  Matt Carpenter looked as though he knew the other two would get most of the questions (he was right.)  The highlights: appearing slimmer than when we last saw him, Lance Lynn discussed how his mentality had changed from starting to relieving and how he “just wants to pitch, wherever it may be.”

Tyler Greene

Tyler Greene talked about being “ready to play… to come into Spring Training ready to play…to play as much as he can….”  When told that Mo was pretty adamant about his getting every opportunity to win the 2B job, Tyler said “it’s great! it’s an open spot… there’s going to be some competition… everybody’s going to be working for it & working hard.”  Tyler then deflected some questions about his prior efforts at the Cardinal infield, reiterating that it was in the past and he is just looking forward to Spring Training while emphasizing his extra practice at 2B this offseason.  Matt Carpenter spoke about working on being versatile and practicing other positions.  (An assumed reference to the burgeoning wealth of 3B talent with World Series MVP David Freese ahead of him and Zack Cox likely surging up to AAA this season.)  All three spoke highly of their former Memphis skipper, Chris Maloney, newly promoted to Cardinals 1st base coach for 2012, and then they were quickly scooted off to the autograph tables.

Adam Wainwright was the highlight of my first day Winter Warm-Up.  Although slumming it in a boring gray hoodie, he was darling, as usual.  Waino answered questions about his rehab (“feeling great” and saying “I am actually worried that I’m too far along instead of the other way around.”) He joked about when he might feel comfortable ribbing new teammate Carlos Beltran about “the curve” and told how Matt Holliday liked to tease him about his gardening hobby that helped occupy his time and “kept him sane” in 2011.  It was obvious Waino is ready to get back to the game.

Some more Waino highlights:  In his humble, yet upstanding way, Adam spoke about his role in the clubhouse, saying “I feel like I have a leadership role on the team.  I feel like I can help in a lot of different ways.”  He also took the opportunity to elaborate on the role faith played in his recovery, explaining “when you are leaning on somebody who is a lot stronger than any human could be and is inspiring like God is, then you are always going to be okay.”

And as luck would have it, my first day of Winter Warm-Up wrapped up with my baseball player talking about a football player.  You may have heard of him?  His name’s Tim Tebow, and Adam Wainwright is a huge fan.

For more WWU goodies, be sure to check out my partners in crime:

Chris Reed will be posting updates on i70baseball.com

Kevin‘s updates are at C70 at the Bat

Nick is covering WWU at PitchersHitEighth

and Ann is posting updates at Aaron Miles Fastball

—–

Tomorrow, I’m back at it again.  More pictures, more player info.  Winter Warm-Up Day 2!

Lynn, Cleto and our Baby Birds

To say I enjoy watching a ballplayer make his Major League debut would be an understatement.  Whether a Cardinal or not, a player stepping to the plate in the big show for the first time mesmerizes me.  The nerves, the excitement, the once-in-a-lifetime intensity – all that (and more) combine to create that rare thrill.

Thursday night, Lance Lynn got his moment of glory, taking the mound as starting pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals.  Lynn was off to a tremendous start, retiring the first ten batters he faced.  The Baby Bird was pitching like a pro and the Cardinals had a 3-0 lead heading into the 4th inning.  I couldn’t have been more proud.

But then….

If you watched the game or saw the box score, you know the result wasn’t a picture-perfect debut by Lance Lynn.  The defense let him down.  The defense…. Yes, the Cardinals’ 2011 defense remains a sore subject with me.  And yes, I’m again pointing a finger at a couple of our boys playing down the middle of the field.

Which brings me to Baby Bird Debut Numero Dos for last night, Maikel Cleto.  Cleto came from the Mariners when the Cardinals decided to dump the brilliant defensive glove of shortstop Brendan Ryan.  (insert my trademark Brendan Ryan trade protest here)  Cleto was called up, fresh from AA Springfield yesterday, hopping over AAA to make his first appearance out of the St. Louis bullpen in the 7th inning.  Unlike Lance Lynn, Cleto failed to impress me.  He walked his first two batters, gave up a double and then back-to-back homeruns before finally getting his act together and striking out the final two batters to end the nightmare. (In his defense, Cleto managed a 1-2-3 8th inning and Cardinal Nation breathed a sigh of relief.)

Two Baby Bird debuts plus a field of Cardinal youngsters made last night’s game a must-see for those of us who follow the minors as well as the big boys.  2010 Memphis mentionables playing last night included Jon Jay, Allen Craig, Daniel Descalso, Tyler Greene, Tony Cruz (catcher, starting at 3rd base!  But that’s another story…) and pitcher Lance Lynn; Pete Kozma (spent last year in AA Springfield) and as mentioned, Maikel Cleto (low A last year).

A few more fleeting thoughts…

  • Even if the camera adds 10 pounds, I say Lance Lynn still packed on an extra cheeseburger or 50 since I watched him strikeout 16 batters in his PCL Championship game last September.  Noticeably heftier. (I’m a dietitian. I notice this stuff.)
  • Maikel Cleto can throw hard and fast.  Great.  But in my opinion, he should be refining his control back in Memphis.  He didn’t look ready.  My nerves were shot from watching his 7th inning.  Someone remind me, why he was called up so quickly?     note: after I wrote this and before it was posted, moves were made by the Cardinals that included optioning Cleto back to AA Springfield.  Cleto skips Memphis on his way back as well?  I will just be content to be confused on the whole Cleto promotion idea.  onward…
  • our defense…..  *sigh*

On a happier note:   This weekend the Memphis Redbirds are heading my way to play a 4-game series against the Oklahoma City Redhawks. *happy dance*  I keep trying to convince my family how amazingly wonderful this is – the chance to see the young guys on the verge of breaking into the Majors, to watch them play in a more relaxed environment, the opportunity to begin building early baseball memories of these players.

….They just pat me on the head and give me an understanding smile.  But they do go to the games with me.  Win/win.  😉

It’s ok though.  Even if they aren’t quite the baseball fanatics that I am, I plan to keep dragging them to the ballpark. And someday soon, when we are again watching another baby bird make his Major League debut, they’ll feel that special excitement that comes from remembering these AAA games.

Viva El Baby Birds!….and Go Cardinals!

Welcome to the Bigs, Kid. Good Luck With This.

Could someone explain to me when Tony went from the one that doesn’t trust rookies and young guys to the one trying to kill pitchers arms and spirits a la Dusty Baker?

First of all, the Cards have got an inordinate amount of infielders (or outfielders being used as infielders) on this team. So why is the backup catcher starting at third base? Why on a team boasting 7 guys that have played infield this year (and 4 of which have started or played third) was that at all necessary? This was one of those starting lineups that Tony pulled out of a hat, wasn’t it?

Poor Lance Lynn. Making his major league debut starting on just 3 days rest. He was actually very efficient, throwing only 64 pitches in his 5 1/3 innings of work. However, when he was getting lit up in the sixth, and the crack team doing play by play for Fox Sports Midwest kept repeatedly stating that there was no one warming up in the bullpen, I got frustrated again. Now, I know I ranted yesterday about how the starting pitchers are having issue lately getting deep into games, and the bullpen looks worn out. That issue has obviously not changed since then. So the team says, “Hey, let’s bring up another arm and have 13 pitchers, thereby allowing guys to get a breather!’

Solid idea, right? Well, I’m actually never on board with having 13 pitchers on the roster. Ever. However, in the last seven games…

Brian Tallet has 4 appearances and 3 innings pitched.

Eduardo Sanchez has 3 appearances and 3 2/3 innings pitched.

Fernando Salas has 3 appearances and 3 1/3 innings pitched.

Ryan Franklin has 3 appearances and 5 2/3 innings pitched.

Jason Motte has 3 appearances and 4 innings pitched.

Miguel Batista has 3 appearances and 5 1/3 innings pitched.

Trever Miller has 4 appearances and 2 2/3 innings pitched.

Individually it doesn’t seem like a lot, but add it up. Over 7 games the pen has taken on 27 2/3 innings, and that doesn’t even include the 2 that Maikel Cleto took on last night (I’ll get to him). So the pen has handled almost 30 of 64 innings (counting extras) over the last seven days. I can understand the feeling of needing an extra arm for a few days. So what does the team do?

Call up Maikel Cleto. Force a kid to skip AAA and run straight to the bigs despite the fact that there are 4 arms in AAA that are on the 40 man, including 2 (Mitchell Boggs and Jess Todd) that have big league experience. Makes perfect sense. The book on Cleto is simple – he throws the ball fast. Caveman style. Me throw ball fast. He has no idea where it’s going, and, when he’s at all worked up, excited, or even just thinking about what kind of food is going to be on the postgame spread, he has even less of a clue. He just winds up and throws it. Fast.

Hey kid. In the bigs? They can hit fastballs.

It was setting him up for failure in a big way. I don’t like it. He showed us something big in being able to calm down and come out for a solid second inning, but wow, was I cringing to see him get run back out there.

This makes two posts in two days from me… both of the ranting variety. I should cut it out or you’re all going to think I a) like writing and b) need to get out more.

Thankfully we are finished with the Giants for the year. Up next are the boys from the north side – the Cubs. The boys in blue have lost their last three (to the hapless Astros no less) and are 3-7 in their last ten games. Old friend Ryan Dumpster Dempster takes the mound for the Cubbies, while Jaime Garcia looks to bounce back from arguably his toughest start of his career. Gametime is at 7:15. Go Cards! 🙂

There’s no crying in baseball… unless it’s Lou Brock Night.

Last night my family went to the Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City to watch the visiting Memphis Redbirds, our Cardinals’ AAA affiliate, play the OKC Redhawks. It was also Lou Brock night, and we were excited to meet Mr. Brock and have him sign autographs. I had talked it up and taught the kiddos about the base-stealing Cardinals legend. We had front row tickets on the first base side – right by the Memphis dugout. I had visions of a fun night of baseball for the kids. (OK, truthfully, I was even more excited than they were!) But despite all my plans, the night ended in tears – not the outcome I was hoping for.
We drove in early to have dinner and get autographs before the game. What I had not foreseen was that Mr. Brock would be signing DURING the game, not before. So instead of sitting in our front row seats, we stood in a (very) long line for 2 1/2 hours and watched the first 7 innings from an obstructed view in the concourse. My son DID see the ballgame from his seat, since (wisely) he wanted no part in that long line. Big thanks to my Mom for agreeing to sit and watch with him!

Lance Lynn was on the mound for our Memphis Redbirds (aka ‘Baby Birds’), and he was throwing a no-hitter through 6 innings! —Meanwhile, we waited for Lou Brock. We had been warned he would only sign until 9pm, but had faith we might make it to the front by then. We waited as the line crept closer. My daughter was patient, but restless. When the clock struck 9, Mr. Brock got up and left. We had missed it by ‘that much’, give or take 10 feet. Bummer!
We wandered back to our seats to watch the game, but my daughter was fighting back tears, very disappointed after that long wait. We did get to watch 2 exciting innings as the Redbirds fell behind (no longer a no-hitter), and then rally with 4 runs in the 9th. Ultimately our ‘Baby Birds’ lost the game. Bummers again!
With kids, it can be hard to talk-up an experience where they have missed out on the autographs and their team has lost. Kids (like many grown-ups) are all about the WIN. During the drive home, my daughter was still heartbroken. My son was more forgiving of the evening’s outcome – mostly because he was hyped up on Twizzlers and Skittles shared by the fans behind us and he got a foul ball (caught by a man who then gave it to my son).
This morning, however, I was pleased to discover the tears had been replaced with baseball excitement again. We are heading back to the ballpark for another round of ‘Baby Bird’ ball this afternoon. No long lines today, just a full game from our front row seats with a promise of Cracker Jacks or cotton candy to sweeten the deal.
I’d like to hope my kids came to understand something important about baseball yesterday. With baseball, there’s always tomorrow, starting over, with a chance to get the win. It’s a good lesson that helps make disappointments easier to handle. Have a great Sunday everyone! Play Ball!


Footnote: A big shout-out to a great Twitter Cardinals fan, @throatwarbler, who was also there (with his sweet daughter) for Lou Brock Night. So fun to finally meet him in person! {proof} If you are a Cardinals fan on twitter, follow him! Wonderful, funny guy who knows a lot about baseball & Cardinals history. You can read some of his great game stories here.
%d bloggers like this: