Ben Frederickson: What the Cardinals should have added to their Truck Day packing list
Published in Baseball
Bags and baskets and boxes, oh my.
Truck Day turned Busch Stadium into a baseball beehive Monday, as clubbies and movers packed and loaded the Cardinals' spring training necessities.
Baseballs? Gobs of them. Same for bats, cleats, uniforms and anything else the club could need before it returns for its home opener against the Blue Jays on March's final day.
A walk through the carefully organized and emptying clubhouse showed almost everything had been tagged for Florida, but one never can be too sure, so I took it upon myself to add a few necessities to the list . . .
Noise-canceling headphones: These are for new Cardinals catcher Willson Contreras. It's a hard thing, replacing a legend. Contreras is up for the challenge, and he's honored by the opportunity. Still, his defense will be unfairly compared to future Hall of Famer Yadier Molina's. And fans who wanted a trade for Sean Murphy will look for any reason to confirm their opinions the Braves made a better offseason catching acquisition. Contreras can't waste time sweating critics. Plenty of folks believe he is the right catcher for the job. He should aim to prove those folks right, not the doubters wrong.
A color-coded calendar: This one is for second-year manager Oli Marmol. If the Cardinals don't wind up with the most players participating in the World Baseball Classic — the number was at a tentative 12 as of Monday — they are going to be close to first. Players will be cycling in and out of camp as their respective countries start and get knocked from the bracket.
The Cardinals have some heavy hitters participating, a list that includes the defending National League MVP (Paul Goldschmidt), the MVP's third-place finisher (Nolan Arenado), the team's most experienced pitcher (Adam Wainwright), the team's leader in innings pitched and quality starts last season (Miles Mikolas), the starting shortstop (Tommy Edman), two projected starting outfielders (Lars Nootbaar and Tyler O'Neill), and more.
If Team USA wins gold as projected, Arenado, Goldschmidt, Mikolas and Wainwright will miss a significant chunk of camp during the tournament. It starts March 8 and wraps on March 21.
Scantron test forms: Baseball's new rules — strictly enforced pitch clock, bigger bases, pickoff limits, shift ban — now are in play. The team that adjusts best will be better off when games count. Mets manager Buck Showalter has said his team will have pop quizzes on the rule changes. Good idea.
A red carpet: With O'Neill and Nootbaar participating in the WBC, Cardinals top prospect Jordan Walker is going to get plenty of chances to prove he should break camp with the big club. The opportunity is his. No one should be surprised if he grabs it.
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