3/7/2014 7:12 P.M. ET
Wong ends spring skid, shows off potential
By Christina De Nicola and Jenifer Langosch / MLB.com
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Kolten Wong, who afterward admitted that the results took a "weight of my chest," snapped out of his spring skid with a three-hit afternoon on Friday, during which he showed off several reasons why the Cardinals want to give him the chance to stick as an everyday second baseman.
Wong not only tallied the three hits (including a double to deep center), but he stole a base, scored once, drove home two and made a pair of excellent defensive plays at second. It was all much needed positive results for the young infielder, ranked No. 2 on the Cards' Top 20 Prospects list, who entered the day hitless in 10 Grapefruit League at-bats.
"I'm always the guy who wants to succeed and who wants to continue to move forward," Wong said. "And when you don't see progress right away, it gets you a little frustrated."
Manager Mike Matheny sensed Wong getting tight, and earlier this week, he reminded him not to get overwhelmed by the results -- or in this case, the lack thereof. For Matheny, watching Wong deal with some early adversity was as much a part of the evaluation process as anything Wong will do from here on forward.
The Cardinals are using this spring to finalize how second base will be covered when the season opens. The club has veteran Mark Ellis available, but also wants to give Wong an opportunity to prove that he can be a long-term fit. Wong also wants to show that his first impression -- he batted .153 in 59 at-bats with the Cardinals last season -- is not indicative of his potential.
"I think Kolten, too, it's just been a good learning experience, that putting pressure on yourself that is undue is just a distraction," Matheny said. "You just play the game. It's the process; it's not the results. We talk about it a lot, and when it happens to you, I think it hits a little closer to home.
"He had a good day. I just have to remember to tell him for him to remember that how he feels right now, keep that expectation all the time when things are going rough."
Wong said an adjustment he made to get his front foot down a little earlier on his swing helped him shore up his timing on Friday.
Wainwright gets reacclimated to game speed
JUPITER, Fla. -- St. Louis right-hander Adam Wainwright, already tabbed as the Opening Day starter, became one of the last Cardinals to make his Spring Training debut.
The 2013 National League Cy Young Award runner-up required just 25 pitches (15 strikes) over two scoreless innings in his start Friday afternoon against the Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium.
In the first, Matt Angle grounded out to second, Christian Yelich singled up the middle and Giancarlo Stanton fouled out to first. Yadier Molina threw Yelich out stealing on a 2-0 pitch to end the frame. Wainwright pitched a perfect second by striking out Garrett Jones swinging and inducing a pair of groundouts.
"It was good to get out there and compete on the field, feel the speed of the game again, control things," Wainwright said. "I was fairly pleased with how it went."
Wainwright, who was scheduled to start Thursday's rainout in Fort Myers, Fla., regularly hit the high 80s-low 90s with his fastball.
The 32-year-old will take the mound again on Tuesday against the Mets before resuming a normal schedule. He expects to toss around 50 pitches.
"I know I'm on short rest, so I didn't go out there and try to blow anything out," Wainwright said. "I wanted to be very under control and tried to finish square. For the most part, I did, except for the only hit I gave up. The only time I fell off the mound, he hit it right back up the middle. I was mad about that, but other than that, I felt in control of my body and where the ball was going."
Matheny challenges call without complete help
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Manager Mike Matheny made his second "challenge" of the spring on Friday, though it was not exactly a true trial run through the new instant replay system.
While Friday's game against the Mets was chosen as a test day for instant replay, the Cardinals did not have all the personnel in place to actually simulate things as they will during the regular season. Both the video coordinator, who will be reviewing plays, and bench coach Mike Aldrete, who will be signaling to Matheny whether a challenge is worthwhile, were back in Jupiter, Fla., for the other split-squad game.
With only his eyes to trust, Matheny chose to challenge an eighth-inning call in which Mike O'Neill was called out trying to steal second. O'Neill reached the base before the throw, but as video replay later confirmed, as his leg went beyond the base, his hand was blocked from touching the bag by one of Wilmer Flores' cleats.
"I didn't have any video. I didn't have any help. I'm just [feeling] that it didn't look right to me; it still doesn't look right to me," Matheny said. "You don't see blocking second base happen very often."
It took the umpire in a nearby truck longer to review this play than it did the one Matheny challenged earlier this week, though it was still only estimated at about a 70-second delay. The Cardinals have yet to have an opponent challenge a play this spring.
"I'd like to work with the process -- which we're not going to be able to do -- when we have just as much technology as they have," Matheny said. "But you know what, I thought that was a good opportunity. He was obviously there before the ball was, and whether he could get a hand in, it takes a very good eye that is better than mine from 130 feet away. I think it also took a little longer [to sort out], because it was a pretty close call."
Lynn works on breaking pitches in tough start
JUPITER, Fla. -- In the past, an outing like the one he had Friday afternoon might've bothered Cardinals right-hander Lance Lynn.
Lynn gave up five runs on six hits in 1 1/3 innings in a 7-3 loss to the Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium. He struck out three batters and walked another.
A trio of doubles plated three runs in the third. An RBI single and sacrifice fly knocked Lynn -- who was initially scheduled to start -- from the game with one out in the fourth. Right-handed batters drove in all five runs.
"You never want to do bad. It doesn't matter what the situation is," said Lynn, who threw 53 pitches. "When it comes down to it, you know what you need to fix. Back then, it was one of those things where I was like, 'I don't know how to fix that.' I like the way the ball felt coming out of my hand. I just didn't throw the ball where I wanted to."
Of the 28 pitches in his spring debut on Saturday, 25 were fastballs. For Lynn's second appearance, he concentrated on his breaking stuff.
Even though the results weren't favorable, Lynn acknowledged throwing more of those pitches better prepares him for the season and gives him a feel for how hitters react to them.
"Changeup felt really good today. My slider was flat all day," Lynn said. "That's why we're here working on it. That'll be something I'll concentrate more on the next bullpen and make sure that it's sharper."
The 26-year-old, who has won 33 games over the past two seasons, is expected to earn a spot in the rotation. It has not, however, been promised to him.
"There's going to be some things I work on next week," Lynn said. "I definitely want to get my slider to where it needs to be. I like the break in my curveball. My changeup's right where I want it to be. Right now, I've got two of my four pitches. Maybe next, get those other two where I want them."
• Trevor Rosenthal, whose throwing program was temporarily interrupted by a groin strain, is scheduled to make his first spring appearance on Saturday. Rosenthal passed his final test on Wednesday when he threw a 15-pitch live batting-practice session.
• Outfielder Peter Bourjos reported to camp on Friday morning and lobbied Matheny to put him in one of the team's two split-squad lineups. Matheny instead chose to give Bourjos another day to deal with the right hamstring cramp that has kept him out of games since Sunday. Matheny did not rule out Bourjos being ready to return to the field on Saturday.
• With a 3-for-3 afternoon, left fielder Matt Holliday now has eight hits in nine spring at-bats. His second hit on Friday was a liner off second-base umpire Chris Conroy, to which Matheny offered afterward: "The poor umpire, that's all I have to say."
• The Cardinals brought lefty Tyler Lyons to Port St. Lucie as an emergency pitcher, but decided to end the game tied instead of having Lyons pitch the 10th. Matheny labeled Lyons a "double double emergency" guy and will have the left-hander throw multiple innings in Saturday's game.
• Busch Stadium will play host to the "Braggin' Rights" baseball game between the University of Missouri and the University of Illinois on April 2, the Cardinals announced Friday. The game will begin at 6:30 p.m. CT, and tickets will cost $15. That price includes $5 loaded onto the ticket for use at stadium concession stands. Visit cardinals.com/mizzou or cardinals.com/illini to purchase tickets.
Christina De Nicola is a contributor to MLB.com. 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.