Notes: B. Miller day to day; Muñoz to miss time

Gomber, staff strong until ninth; DeJong homers for second time in two days

March 2nd, 2020

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Veteran utility infielder was scratched from Sunday’s game against the Astros with lower back stiffness. He is considered day to day.

Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said that the stiffness popped up when Miller was hitting in the cage before Sunday’s 5-4 walk-off loss to the Astros at FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. The Cards had batting practice in Jupiter before heading to West Palm Beach, so Miller did not make the trip. Miller’s timetable for a return wasn’t known on Sunday.

Miller was scheduled to start at third base and hit fifth in the lineup. Instead, Elehuris Montero, originally the designated hitter, started at third, and Nolan Gorman hit for Miller as the DH.

Shildt also said the stiffness is comparable to the back tightness that has been dealing with over the past four days.

“I think it’s similar,” Shildt said. “It’s hard to say, it happened pretty much as we were leaving. Sounds like [Miller is] day to day, which typically means three days or so.”

The Cardinals signed Miller to a one-year, $2 million deal at the beginning of camp as a veteran utility player. The 30-year-old can play second base, shortstop, third base and in the outfield, and his bat was targeted as a way to add a left-hander either into the lineup or off the bench for St. Louis.

Muñoz to miss ‘some time’
felt a “pop” in his left hamstring while running down the first-base line on Saturday, and the infielder will miss significant time with a hamstring strain, manager Mike Shildt said Sunday.

“It’s going to be a while,” Shildt said. “It’s a hamstring, he said he felt a pop. Medically, we’re trying to get our hands around it, take a little time and evaluate as we go.”

Muñoz was competing for a utility role with the Cardinals this season, but he will likely miss Opening Day and the first part of the season, considering the timing of the injury.

“It’s bad timing,” Shildt said. “Unfortunate timing for it. But there is some time. We’ve got a month, but hamstrings take a while.”

Gomber, Cards pitching sharp until ninth
missed most of 2019 with a left biceps injury and shoulder weakness, but the southpaw looks like he's back in form this spring.

In his second Grapefruit League start Sunday, Gomber was dominant. He faced nine Astros in three innings, striking out four. Only one batter, Jose Altuve, reached base on a single in the first. Gomber mixed in a variety of pitches, including a nasty curveball to strike out Michael Brantley looking.

The pitchers who followed -- John Gant for 2 2/3 innings, Jesus Cruz to finish the sixth, for the seventh and Kodi Whitley for the eighth -- were mostly excellent, though Gant yielded three runs. But Rob Kaminsky gave up four walks, allowing the Astros to tie the game, and Nabil Crismatt yielded the final walk.

“If you’re a competitor -- it hangs with you, because we played really good baseball today,” Shildt said. “We pitched exceptionally well until the last inning. At the end of the day, you’re competitive. We’ve lost some games but haven’t beat ourselves all spring. I’ve been pleased with how we’ve played all spring. But you don’t like walking off when you’ve beat yourself and when you’ve executed the game so well.”

Worth noting
• Carpenter (back tightness) is expected to be back in the lineup on Monday. He was running through the clubhouse on Sunday morning, and he said he felt ready to go.

, who has worked on a new approach this offseason and at the beginning of spring, homered for the second day in a row on Sunday. The Cardinals shortstop has three big flies and seven RBIs this spring, and he also worked a 14-pitch at-bat against Enoli Paredes in the fifth inning. After hooking a ball just foul over the left field wall, DeJong flied out to center.

“That foul ball was within a couple feet,” DeJong said. “That was an insane at-bat. I’m kind of sad I got out. It is what it is, 14 pitches or whatever it was.”

Up next
The Cardinals return to Roger Dean Stadium on Monday to host the Twins at 1:05 p.m. ET, live on MLB.TV and MLB Network. Lefty Génesis Cabrera is slated to start. Brett Cecil, Andrew Miller and John Brebbia are scheduled to throw one inning or 25 pitches each.