Can you feel it? It may be bone-chilling cold in St. Louis, but the Redbirds have flocked down to Jupiter, Fla., for 2021 Spring Training at the facilities at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium. Think warm thoughts.
The Cardinals, off a topsy-turvy offseason that saw them as the last team to strike a Major League deal before shocking the baseball world with the blockbuster addition of Nolan Arenado, head south with hopes high. The National League Central is there for the taking after an unceremonious exit to the 2020 postseason.
With all this in mind, here are some questions you may have considered -- and some you maybe didn’t -- as the Cardinals head down to Jupiter:
When did pitchers and catchers report?
What about the full squad?
Given the pandemic, how is Spring Training going to be different this year?
MLB teams are permitted to have no more than 75 players and 75 staff members at their complexes. At the onset of camp, the Cardinals carried with them 66 players. Clubs in Florida will also be playing in pods to mitigate travel, meaning the Cards will not leave the East Coast for any Grapefruit League games.
When is the first Spring Training game?
The realigned Grapefruit League schedule will kick off on Feb. 28, as the Cardinals host the Nationals at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium, with first pitch set for 12:05 p.m. CT. St. Louis will play only the Nats, Astros, Mets and Marlins in its Grapefruit League pod.
When does Grapefruit League action end?
The Cards wrap up their Spring Training slate against the Mets on March 29 in Jupiter. No other exhibitions are scheduled at this time.
How can I watch/listen/follow Spring Training games?
Broadcast and radio information is still being sorted out, but all games and statistics will be followable live on MLB’s Gameday tracking.
What are the key roster/position battles to watch?
The Cardinals are set at most positions, especially after the acquisition of Arenado shored up the infield. Tommy Edman is in line to take over at second base after the departure of Kolten Wong, and his adjustment to a full-time role will be a key storyline. The outfield is young, with Harrison Bader, 26, in line to be the elder statesman, so an addition could come there. Otherwise, the Cards have an opening for the No. 5 starter, the final spots of their bullpen and they need someone to take over leadoff duties from Wong. But they are mostly set with the crop they are taking to Jupiter.
Who are some new faces to know?
Arenado, who joined the club on Feb. 1 from the Rockies in exchange for five players, is an eight-time Gold Glover and a four-time Platinum Glover at third base. His 2020 season was a rough one offensively, but he’s confident the left shoulder injury that sidelined him last September is in the past. The Cards also re-signed legacy players Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright to one-year deals for 2021, though they’re not exactly new faces.
St. Louis also welcomed right-hander Johan Quezada, catchers Ali Sánchez and Tyler Heineman, infielder José Rondón and outfielder Matt Szczur to the fold, among others. All will compete for the last open roster spots and provide depth.
Who might be the Cards’ Opening Day starter?
Jack Flaherty is in line for his second consecutive Opening Day start, assuming his spring proceeds as normal, and will be looking to put a tough 2020 in the rear-view mirror. Should something arise, or if the Cards change plans, Wainwright is another candidate to start, which would make it his sixth Opening Day nod.
What might the Opening Day lineup and rotation look like?
Tommy Edman, 2B
Paul DeJong, SS
Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
Nolan Arenado, 3B
Dylan Carlson, RF
Yadier Molina, C
Tyler O'Neill, LF
Harrison Bader, CF
Jack Flaherty, RHP
Adam Wainwright, RHP
Kwang Hyun Kim, LHP
Miles Mikolas, RHP
Carlos Martínez, RHP
Jordan Hicks, RHP
Who are some prospects to keep an eye on in camp?
Nolan Gorman and Matthew Liberatore -- close friends, and two of the club’s top prospects -- will headline camp, with Gorman’s development bound to be especially interesting now that his future at third base is in question with Arenado signed through 2027. Dylan Carlson, the club's top prospect, has a more certain immediate future barring any unforeseen changes, as he is slated for the starting right-field role with Dexter Fowler traded to the Angels.
What’s the story with some of the recent injuries?
The Cardinals are lucky in several respects in that they are not nursing any uncertain injuries at the start of camp, though Dakota Hudson will be out for the year after undergoing Tommy John surgery in September. What remains to be seen is how Miles Mikolas, who missed last season with surgery to repair the flexor tendon in his right arm, and Jordan Hicks, who underwent Tommy John surgery in June 2019 and opted out of the ‘20 season, readjust to game action.
Paul Goldschmidt also had a bone spur removed from his right elbow at the end of the 2020 season, while Arenado nursed soreness to the A/C joint in his left shoulder, but those ailments are not expected to linger into this year.
When is Opening Day and who is the opponent?
The Cardinals open their season on April 1, on the road against the Reds at 3:10 p.m. CT.
What about the home opener?
The club’s home opener is on April 8 against Wong and the Brewers, with first pitch set for 3:15 p.m.
Is the team planning to sell tickets to regular-season games?
Yes. Sales for single-game tickets are still to be determined, but season tickets and similar ticket plans are on sale now.