The St. Louis Cardinals' spring training season opened officially on Saturday with pitchers and catchers reporting, and now everything will be geared towards defending their 2011 World Series title. First workouts begin on Sunday, Feb. 19, while position players report on Thursday, Feb. 23, and the first full team workout is set for Friday, Feb. 24. New manager Mike Matheny is hoping to keep his first camp efficient and focused, as he told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
"It's been a very efficient camp," he said. "There's no standing around. We get in, get our work done and get them out of here...Maybe inside there are going to be (changes)...So there will be more chalk talk inside. There's going to be some more instruction that goes on there and then comes out here and expects to be put into play. In general you don't really mess with something that has been effective."
Strong starting pitching will be relied upon to stabilize the team now that Albert Pujols is gone, and the rotation should include Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, Kyle Lohse, Jaime Garcia and Jake Westbrook, barring any injuries. It appears that Kyle Lohse is experimenting with a curveball this year, and the staff at SB Nation's St. Louis Cardinals blog, Vivos El Birdos, is moderately excited:
Kyle Lohse was busting out a new curveball, with only some moderate success. Apparently, some of them did not make it a full 60' 6". Still, a "new pitch from an okay pitcher" puts him at the head of the early running for the Joel Pineiro award, named for the pitcher who rose suddenly and spectacularly from being a pedestrian 5th starter to being (briefly) the best pitcher on the staff, to being a pedestrian 5th starter again, and to a minor league deal for 2012. A biting curveball is not quite as likely to make Lohse a temporary ace as the mystical Pineiro one-seamer, but I still like to hear that pitchers are working on something new.