Notes: Gorman, Liberatore have friendly BP duel

February 17th, 2020

JUPITER, Fla. -- For the first time in around two years, and dueled against each other, with Liberatore on the mound and Gorman at the plate.

The childhood friends, who went to rival Arizona high schools but played on the same competitive team throughout their youth, were in the same uniform again Monday for the Cardinals first full-squad workout. And by coincidence or not, there they were on the same field for live batting practice.

“Wasn’t scripted from me,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. “We wanted to have a lefty and righty in every group that they face. I can tell you it was not scripted on my end, but I’m sure they’ll enjoy it.”

That they did.

Both got a sense for how much the other has grown since being drafted in the first round in 2018 -- Gorman to the Cardinals and Liberatore to the Rays. In January, the Cardinals traded José Martínez and Randy Arozarena for the pitching prospect. According to MLB Pipeline, Gorman was the Cardinals’ No. 2 prospect in 2019 and is ranked No. 47 nationally in this year's Top 100 Prospects list, while Liberatore was No. 3 for St. Louis and currently sits at No. 58 in all of baseball.

After the trade, Gorman and Liberatore made plans to live together in Jupiter this spring, and also if they’re on the same team this season.

“He’s grown, so he looks taller on the mound,” Gorman said. “But he’s just mentally much more advanced right now than he was when we faced each other in high school.”

Gorman got a good feel for Liberatore’s slider, the pitch that has developed the most since high school. On Monday, Liberatore threw a cutter-like slider, and Gorman chased it in the dirt once.

“It’s more of a sharp, late break,” Gorman said. “He wants to get down in the zone and get people to swing over the top of it. Back in high school, I’d say it kind of slid more. But he’s throwing it harder now, and he’s got good command of it.”

But Liberatore isn’t the only one who’s gotten better.

“He’s more complete than he was,” Liberatore said. “He knows what his weak points are, and he’s started to lay off the pitches that he knows he can’t hit. He’s looking for one pitch in one location versus trying to be overly aggressive swinging at pitches that don’t benefit him, so you get a much better approach.”

Many hitters tracked a lot more pitches than they swung at Monday, but Gorman decidedly did not take many from Liberatore. They weren’t keeping count, but the left-handed hitting third baseman got under Liberatore’s final pitch and watched it fly to center field before falling short of the wall.

“The wind’s blowing in,” Gorman quipped as he stepped out of the cage.

Liberatore responded later: “He’s said that about pretty much every fly ball he’s hit off me.”

Mikolas update expected in the next two days
With Cardinals starter on a non-throwing program as he deals with right forearm discomfort to start the spring, Shildt said that an update on what’s next for Mikolas will come either Tuesday or Wednesday.

Rest might not be the only measure prescribed for Mikolas, who got a platelet-rich plasma injection at the start of the offseason to help the issue he dealt with for most of last season, but it wasn’t confirmed

“It’s based on how he feels and based on that, like I said, we got to a point where we felt like we got to a certain place and that baseline didn’t move,” Shildt said. “It didn’t worsen, it didn’t move and we’re at a point in the season where let’s think about other opportunities that can allow us to move it in a positive, non-threatening situation. So that’s what we’re finalizing.”

Mikolas participated in fielding drills for non-throwers Monday during the first full-squad workout. The 31-year-old right-hander began to feel the flexor tendon soreness again after his bullpen session Thursday, and he did not throw his scheduled session Saturday.

Worth noting
• All the position players reported to camp on time and were in uniform Monday for the first full-squad workout.

• Hall of Fame shortstop and special instructor Ozzie Smith was on the field Monday taking grounders in turn with Paul DeJong. Shildt said that Smith was the third person to speak in the clubhouse meeting Monday morning -- right behind chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. and president of baseball operations John Mozeliak.

• Shildt and other managers met with Commissioner Rob Manfred on Sunday in North Port, Fla. and discussed “what was going on in our game,” Shildt said, alluding to the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal and the backlash that’s come because of it. Shildt also said that Manfred spoke about the limited video access in-game that will be implemented this year.

“It was part of the conversation, what that looks like, how we self-police it internally. And then how it’s going to be -- the i’s are still being dotted, the t’s still being crossed about how that’s going to be executed, but rightfully it’s clear that there’s going to be a strong monitoring and heavy regulation in what takes place in video rooms and in live feeds."