2/27/2013 6:27 P.M. ET
Wacha impresses Molina, Matheny in shutout outing
By Jenifer Langosch / MLB.com
PORT ST. LUCIE -- The compliment came unsolicited from Yadier Molina, who, after catching only three of Michael Wacha's five Grapefruit League innings, offered a bold assessment on Wednesday.
"I think that guy, right now, can pitch in the big leagues," Molina said of Wacha, the team's first-round selection from last year's First-Year Player Draft. "That's the way I look at it. He has great stuff. He has a great presence on the mound. He has great command, a great attitude."
Molina is only the latest in a growing list of evaluators who have been highly impressed by Wacha, a right-hander with a pro resume that includes only 21 Minor League innings.
"That is quite a compliment," said Wacha, when told of Molina's evaluation. "I trust him behind the plate. I don't shake off when he's calling pitches back there. I felt confident throwing anything I wanted in any count."
As a first-time participant in big league camp, Wacha followed a scoreless two-inning debut with three shutout innings against many Mets regulars on Wednesday.
His efficiency and strike-zone command positioned him to become the first Cardinals pitcher to finish three innings in a game this spring. After striking out three in Saturday's game, Wacha fanned five on Wednesday. He's allowed a combined two hits and no walks in five innings.
"We had heard a lot and absolutely wanted to see it for ourselves. He's done a nice job," manager Mike Matheny said. "Michael has been the same guy for two outings, and he's done well."
Wacha has shown an advanced changeup and fastball movement that when paired with mid-90s velocity has given hitters trouble. His curveball is a work in progress, though he got a called third strike with one on Wednesday. The fact that he is beginning to throw that curveball deeper in counts is, alone, progress.
"The fastball is what I love," Molina said. "The fastball is great. He commands it and can throw strikes with it. That's a plus. And with the changeup, it's a good pitch for a strikeout pitch."
While Wacha has been among the Cardinals' most impressive performers so far this spring, he's still not pitching to win a Major League rotation spot out of camp. That said, the impression he leaves now won't be forgotten midseason if a need does arrive on the big league team.
That was the case last year with Trevor Rosenthal, who, after shining in spring, earned a summer callup from Double-A to assume a bullpen role.
"The Rosenthal comparison, to me, really fits in that he's just doing the little things right," Matheny said. "[Wacha] is going about it how you would design for a young player coming in here. He's doing his extra work. He seems to have a plan. He's not doing eye-wash work trying to make us all look at him. He's got a maturity to him, and regardless of however many innings he has as a pro, he has a [good] disposition. That's a good compliment to him and the people that have invested in him in the past."
Lynn pleased with command in spring debut
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The new-look Lance Lynn made his first Grapefruit League appearance on Wednesday and spoke afterward about being encouraged with both how he felt and his ability to command the strikezone.
Down about 40 pounds since the last time he faced hitters, Lynn threw 20 of his 27 pitches against the Mets for strikes. He allowed four hits -- including a two-run homer -- but also struck out three. It was the first of what is expected to be six spring starts for Lynn, who is penciled in to be the team's No. 4 starter this season.
"You always just want to go out there and make sure you feel good getting out of the first one," Lynn said. "For me, it was just throwing strikes with all my pitches. I wasn't worried about striking anyone out on a certain pitch. I just wanted to throw in the strike zone. That's a good one to build off of."
Though Lynn is still building up arm strength -- as all pitchers are doing at this point in spring -- he suggested that the weight loss could have been behind a discernible difference he felt regarding his endurance.
"Today it was easy throwing strikes," Lynn said. "It was easy just to throw. I didn't feel like I was trying at all. I don't know if it was because of that [weight loss] or that it was two innings and I threw only 27 pitches. But everything felt easy and it was working. That's somewhere to build off of."
Adams prepared when opportunities arise
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Though the Cardinals' roster situation doesn't necessarily work in his favor, first baseman Matt Adams arrived in camp having done all he could to position himself for success.
His dedication to a revised workout program this winter helped Adams slim down. His decision to have a minor procedure late last summer eliminated the right elbow discomfort that he dealt with for much of the 2012 season. And while it's still way too early in the spring to jump to conclusions, Adams has started out strong.
With another two hard-hit singles in four at-bats on Wednesday, Adams moves to 5-for-10 in Grapefruit League play. The soreness in his left knee that kept him out for two games appears to be a non-issue now.
"The timing, everything feels good," said Adams, who served as the team's designated hitter against the Mets in the team's 12-4 win. "Basically when you miss days, it's the timing. The swing stays with you, but the timing kind of goes away. But that felt good the past two days."
Adams has resumed taking ground balls, which would suggest that he's close to being able to play the field again, too.
Regardless of what Adams does this spring, though, he may not be able to crack a roster that is already saturated with first basemen. Allen Craig will start at that spot for the Cardinals, and the team will carry Matt Carpenter and Ty Wigginton on the bench as backups. With the Cardinals having to also keep a backup catcher, middle infielder and center fielder, it's hard to see a fit for Adams.
If the roster composition didn't work against him, Adams would seemingly be ready for the jump. He hit his way through Triple-A pitching last season, finishing with a .329 average, 22 doubles, 18 homers and 50 RBIs in 67 games. That's not to say, though, that Adams doesn't see room for improvement, even at that level.
"There's stuff that I need to get better at: plate discipline -- just making sure I'm swinging at strikes -- and my defense has to get better to be a starter in the big leagues," Adams said. "I've got some things to work on, but wherever they put me, I'll be ready."
• Seth Maness, the Cardinals' Minor League pitcher of the year last season, will start for the Cardinals in Thursday's "B" game against the Marlins on Thursday. That game is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. CT, and will be played on one of the practice fields on the St. Louis side of the Roger Dean Stadium complex.
• Craig and Rafael Furcal were the only two position players not to make the trip to Port St. Lucie on Wednesday. Neither has made an appearance on defense yet, though Craig (right shoulder soreness) appears to be close to being cleared.
As for Furcal, though he told reporters on Tuesday that he may be ready to play the field as early as this weekend, the Cardinals are making no such guarantees.
"I'm glad that's the way he's thinking," Matheny said. "It really depends, for me, more on what the medical side is saying."
• In writing out a lineup that featured many regulars on Wednesday, Matheny slotted Jon Jay into the leadoff spot and Carlos Beltran behind him in the No. 2 hole. Could that be evidence of the way Matheny is leaning in terms of lineup construction for the regular season? Well, he hasn't committed just yet.
"The lineup is going to be bouncing around quite a bit this year, too, as we've been talking about giving guys days off," Matheny said. "We're going to have different characters that pop into the equation."
• The Cardinals announced on Wednesday that Fox Sports Midwest is scheduled to televise 150 regular-season games in 2013. That number could increase by two if the team's Aug. 11 and Sept. 22 contests are not picked up by national networks. The other 10 games have already been selected to be shown on either ESPN or FOX.
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.