3/26/2014 7:28 P.M. ET
Cards ink reliever Aardsma to Minor League deal
By Jenifer Langosch / MLB.com
JUPITER, Fla. -- Still trying to finish piecing together their bullpen, the Cardinals made a late addition to the competition by signing right-hander David Aardsma to a Minor League deal on Wednesday.
Aardsma arrived at the Cardinals' spring clubhouse Wednesday morning to find a No. 53 jersey hanging at what had been a vacant locker. The Cardinals, who announced the signing shortly after, then got their first look at Aardsma later in the day when he was called upon to pitch the sixth inning vs. the Nationals.
Aardsma walked the first batter on four pitches and allowed a single before escaping the inning without a run scoring.
"We bring guys in here with the purpose of seeing how they can make our team better," manager Mike Matheny said. "And the only way we can see that is when they get on the mound and show what they have in comparison to others. That's how David is going to fit in with this, and I'm anxious to watch him compete."
Aardsma was a free agent following his release by Cleveland on Friday after the Indians had determined he would not crack their Opening Day lineup. He continued to throw at a facility in Tempe, Ariz., before deciding to sign with the Cardinals.
Aardsma's deal does not include a guaranteed Major League roster spot, but rather a fresh opportunity. He said he is willing to begin the season in Triple-A if the Cardinals choose not to bring him to Cincinnati next week.
"One of the things I told my agent is if I can get a chance to get into camp somewhere with somebody for at least a couple days, I felt confident that I pitched well enough to make the Indians team," Aardsma said on Wednesday. "But when everyone else is throwing amazing, it's hard. I know what I can do. I know how I was pitching and what I am capable of, and I just want a chance to show somebody else that."
With the Indians, Aardsma allowed three runs (two earned) on five hits in six spring innings. He struck out five and walked none. Had the Indians kept him in camp through Tuesday, Aardsma would have been due a $100,000 retention bonus. He requested his release once Cleveland had determined he would not break camp with the Major League team.
If the Cardinals decide to carry Aardsma on their Opening Day roster, he will need to be added to the 40-man roster. Pat Neshek is in the same spot, which means the Cardinals would have to clear one more roster spot if both are to be in the bullpen.
"I don't know what their decisions are," Aardsma said. "I don't know where the roster stands. I'm not really worried about it. I knew I threw really well with Cleveland, had a good spring, felt great, and I'm just going to try to continue that."
It had been assumed that Keith Butler, Jorge Rondon and Scott McGregor were fighting for the final spot in the bullpen. They now have to contend against Aardsma as well.
The 32-year-old has played parts of eight seasons in the Majors with seven different clubs. He was most recently with the Mets, for whom he posted a 4.31 ERA and 1.46 WHIP in 43 appearances last season. He has a career 4.23 ERA in 298 games and spent the 2009-10 seasons as the Mariners' closer.
Aardsma began his big league career in 2004 in San Francisco. A year later, he worked a bit with Matheny as his catcher during Spring Training. In 2006, he and John Mabry were teammates with the Cubs.
"He was a hard, hard thrower at that point," Matheny said of Aardsma. "It was getting up to 100 [mph], or close to it. He was more of a heaver, and what we've seen recently is he's pitching more but still has some good life on the ball. We're interested to see what we see ourselves."
Wainwright cruises through final spring start
JUPITER, Fla. -- Adam Wainwright will next take the mound on Monday in front of a sellout crowd at Great American Ball Park. Before he could make his third Opening Day start, however, he had to get through his final one in Florida.
Wainwright did so with relative ease on Wednesday, throwing 80 pitches over five shutout innings against the Nationals. He closed out spring by not allowing a run in either of his final two starts.
"I'm ready for [games] to start counting," Wainwright said afterward. "I feel good, and spring has flown by. I've had a lot of fun down here and now it's time to get going."
"It was just a well-pitched, well-mixed game again today," added manager Mike Matheny. "I saw enough to get him out after five."
Wainwright will start his prep work for Cincinnati on Thursday, throw a bullpen the day after and then kick off another season as the Cardinals' ace. He'll do so with particular confidence in his sinker, too, a pitch that he intends to incorporate more during the regular season.
Wainwright focused heavily on finding the feel for that pitch this spring, and he threw many sinkers in this final outing.
"I just think it's great to work off that and my four-seam [fastball]," Wainwright said. "They are two completely different pitches. The first pitch of the at-bat, you could throw either one and they're going to do completely different things. … I just think that's a great luxury to have."
Wainwright finished the spring having walked just one, which came back in his second start when he tried to cater to the crowd by throwing a full-count curveball before he had a good feel for his signature pitch. One of his goals this season is to issue fewer walks than starts he makes.
Aardsma apologizes to Peralta for PED tweet
JUPITER, Fla. -- David Aardsma had several introductions to make on Wednesday upon walking into the Cardinals' spring complex after signing a Minor League deal with the organization. There was one in particular, though, that he wanted to make right away.
Aardsma said he sought out Cardinals shortstop Jhonny Peralta so he could explain a pair of tweets he made from his account (@TheDA53) shortly after word leaked that the Cardinals were finalizing an agreement with Peralta on a four-year, $53 million agreement in November. Peralta was coming off a season in which he served a 50-game suspension for his connections to Biogenesis, an anti-aging clinic in Florida that allegedly supplied players with performance-enhancing drugs.
Aardsma tweeted the following on Nov. 23, 2013:
"Apparently getting suspended for PED's means you get a raise. What's stopping anyone from doing it? #weneedtomakeachange"
"I had 2 major surgeries in 5 months and made it back clean, nothing [ticks] me off more than guys that cheat and get raises for doing so."
On Wednesday, he explained himself to Peralta and apologized for the knee-jerk reaction.
"I made a point to talk to him and really find out about him," Aardsma said. "It seems from everything that I've heard that he's a great clubhouse guy, a good guy to be around.
"It was making a really quick comment without really thinking about it. ... I'm not the judge. I'm not the jury. And I shouldn't be the executioner, either. It's something I should have thought about a little bit more."
Aardsma said that Peralta was "very receptive" to the conversation.
• Rehabbing pitchers Jason Motte (Tommy John surgery) and Jaime Garcia (left shoulder bursitis) will remain in Florida to continue their respective throwing programs once the Cardinals head north on Friday. Motte is expected to throw another simulated game later this week. Garcia will continue to throw bullpen sessions for a while longer.
• Third baseman Matt Carpenter played on the back fields Tuesday so that he could get several at-bats in Minor League games. Carpenter is 8-for-40 in Grapefruit League play this spring. Peter Bourjos took the same opportunity to play in intrasquad games on Wednesday.
• Carlos Martinez made his first relief appearance of the spring on Wednesday, and he was unable to finish the eighth, allowing two runs on three hits and two walks. Martinez was told earlier this week that he will open the season in the bullpen.
"It wasn't the results that he wanted," Matheny said afterward. "I think it's just a matter of getting back locked in to what it means to come into a game in the eighth in a big situation and that mentality. I think today could have been a good reminder. I'm sure he's going to go back into the archives -- what it was and how he prepared -- and I'm sure he's anxious to get back out there."
• The Cardinals have announced that they will host a fantasy camp at Busch Stadium from July 10-13, during which fans can compete against and play alongside several former Cardinals players. The camp will be similar to the one the organization has held in Florida annually since 2001.
For more details on the camp and/or to register, visit cardinals.com/fantasycamp.
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.