02/22/12 4:05 PM EST
Change for the better: Boggs reworks repertoire
By Jenifer Langosch / MLB.com
Boggs has not relied on the changeup much at all since 2009, which was also the last season in which he started a Major League game. The percentage of changeups thrown during his 61 relief appearances in 2010 dipped to 1.2 percent. It was nearly the same (1.3 percent) in 51 games with St. Louis last year.
While Boggs will still continue to rely predominantly on his fastball and slider, having the changeup again at his disposal should only help Boggs take another step forward toward establishing himself as a critical piece in the Cardinals' bullpen.
"It's something that I'm going to have to commit to [throwing], which I haven't done in the past," Boggs said. "But I think if I can do that, it'll make all the other stuff that much better. If it wasn't already a good pitch, I wouldn't bother with it. But I think it's something I can compete with."
Boggs, who posted a 3.56 ERA with 48 strikeouts and 21 walks in 60 2/3 innings last year, is one of several right-handed relievers attempting to secure a 'pen spot during Spring Training.
Matheny feels need for speed, steals
JUPITER, Fla. -- Though the Cardinals' offense will not be built around speed, manager Mike Matheny will heighten the emphasis on baserunning during camp this year.
The Cardinals ranked 29th in the Majors last year with 57 stolen bases. Only Detroit had fewer. But even the Tigers had a better success rate than the Cardinals, who, at 59 percent, finished with the lowest such rate among all 30 teams.
Tyler Greene, who played in just 58 games, led the club with 11 stolen bases. He was also never thrown out. Behind him sat the now-departed Albert Pujols with nine. Jon Jay and Allen Craig are the only other returning position players to swipe five bags in 2011.
While the Cardinals have no intention of forcing basestealing among all their hitters, those who do have natural speed will get extra baserunning tutorials before and after workouts over the next few weeks.
"If they have speed in their repertoire, they certainly need to display it and learn how to improve on it," Matheny said. "I do believe that there are some guys in here who can steal some bases. We've got some guys who can run. We've got some guys who are going to be fun to watch use their instincts throughout the spring."
Those players who are going to try and improve this part of their game will get the benefit of working with some of the best. Former Cardinals Lou Brock, Ozzie Smith and Willie McGee -- all of whom will be arriving as guest instructors -- will be heavily involved in baserunning workouts and discussion. Brock ranks second in baseball's record books with 938 career stolen bases.
Cora welcomes role of mentor this spring
JUPITER, Fla. -- Though Alex Cora did not sign with the Cardinals to serve as another instructor, it seems as if he will, in addition to fighting for a roster spot, willingly take on that role this spring.
During Wednesday's infield drills, Cora spent extensive time instructing infield prospect Kolten Wong on the defensive aspects of playing second base. Third-base coach and infield instructor Jose Oquendo was also on the field with Wong, but even he stepped back at times to let Cora do the speaking and the showing.
"When you talk to these kids and you teach them the right way to play the game and all of a sudden they become good players and contribute, it makes you feel real good," Cora said.
Cora, 36, is 15 years older than Wong, who was the Cardinals' first-round pick in last summer's First-Year Player Draft. Though Wong is not fighting for a Major League roster spot this spring, he was invited to camp for moments like the one he shared with Cora on Wednesday. Such exposure to veterans can be priceless to prospects.
"It's going to be fun," manager Mike Matheny said, "to watch how [Cora] blends in."
Outfielder Carlos Beltran arrived at the Cardinals' spring complex on Wednesday to drop off his bags and get acclimated to the facility. He did not participate in the day's workouts. Position players have until the end of the day on Thursday to arrive in Jupiter.
Manager Mike Matheny shrugged off a suggestion that the Cardinals should deliberately find a way to keep the offense from again leading the Majors in double plays. Matheny called discussion about the double play total as "overblown," noting that it is largely a reflection of the fact that the Cardinals put a lot of balls in play and get on base with regularity. He has a point. Though the club grounded into a Major League-high 169 double plays in 2011, it also struck out just 978 times. Only the Rangers had fewer strikeouts on the season.
Fifteen pitchers threw bullpen sessions on Wednesday, including starter Kyle Lohse and closer Jason Motte. Lance Lynn, who missed his throwing session on Tuesday due to minor left hamstring tightness, did not take the mound on Wednesday. He did, however, participate in other parts of the workout.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.