Power outage not a concern to Shildt

Cardinals' offense continues skid; 'Cafecito' lives up to his nickname

March 21st, 2019

JUPITER, Fla. -- Another underwhelming performance by the Cardinals’ offense in Wednesday’s 6-0 loss to the Marlins did not generate much concern within the manager’s office, as Mike Shildt contends that the unit is trending in a positive direction with a week to go before Opening Day.

“It’s not right where I’d like it to be, but it’s not so far off that I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh,’” he said. “I’m not oblivious to the fact that we had three hits today. I’m not oblivious to the fact that we went into the ninth the other day without a hit. I’m not going to excuse that. But I’m also not going to overreact to that either, knowing where we are and the quality of ability we have. That would be pretty foolish.”

The Cardinals’ offense has cooled considerably over the last two weeks. The club has scored two or fewer runs in eight of its last 11 games and followed up being nearly no-hit by the Marlins on Monday with three hits on Wednesday. Drew Robinson had two of them.

The lack of offense comes unexpectedly at a time when more of the team’s regulars are getting consistent playing time. Wednesday’s lineup featured four players -- , , and -- expected to start on Opening Day.

The Cardinals stuck out 10 times and did not draw a walk in the game.

“The discipline of the strike zone is still a work in progress and something we’ll continue to focus on,” Shildt said. “And that will be a daily focus. But the good news is we’re on the right path.”

Meeting in Memphis

Before they start opposite each other in Monday’s exhibition game in Memphis, and took turns on the mound in a unique setting on a back field Wednesday afternoon.

Both had been scheduled to get work in Minor League games until those games were washed out by rain. Needing to stay on schedule, the two instead participated in a simulated game against Cardinals Minor League hitters. Pitching coach Mike Maddux verbally called out various phantom situations and, since the game did not feature a defense, would decide which balls in play would be hits or outs.

“You have to have extreme focus when you go into an outing like that and you’ve been pitching on big league fields to big league hitters with big league fielders behind you with crowds,” Wainwright said. “Then you turn around and there are no fielders behind you.”

Both Wainwright and Wacha threw 89 pitches. They each connected for hits off one another.

“You have to go into it with the same sort of mentality that you’re trying to get everybody out,” Wacha said. “Try to emulate it as much as possible. But it does have a little different feel, for sure.”

Medical report

Shildt described (back tightness) as “moving around better” on Wednesday and said the club expects to see Carpenter back in Grapefruit League action before it departs Florida on Sunday.

That’s unlikely to be the case for (right calf strain), who is targeting Sunday as a possible return date to action on the back fields. By getting work in Minor League games, Gyorko can have a potential stint on the injured list backdated.

A new brew

Following Wednesday’s game, Jose Martinez held an event at a local Jupiter coffee shop to promote his new brand of coffee, which plays to his longtime nickname "Cafecito."

A love of coffee (and corresponding nicknames) was passed down to Martinez from his grandfather, who first gave Jose Martinez’s father, Carlos, the nickname "Café." Other men in the family were called Mocha, Cappuccino and Decaf. When Jose Martinez was born, his grandfather provided him a Spanish nickname for "Little Cup of Coffee."

It stuck, and is now being featured on bags of coffee, which, along with specialty No. 38 mugs, are available for purchase online. Martinez says he hopes to find local coffee shops in St. Louis interested in selling the product. So far, it’s been a popular drink in the Cardinals’ clubhouse.

“It has a really smooth taste, but the guys in here are telling me it’s also pretty strong,” Martinez said. “It has a little bit of a kick to it. It gets you going in the morning.”

Worth noting

• Utility man Yairo Munoz will further enhance his versatility by getting work behind the plate over the final days of Spring Training. That would position him to be an emergency catching option during the season.

• Carlos Martinez returned to camp on Wednesday and resumed his throwing program with a session of flat-ground catch. Martinez had been absent since Saturday due to the birth of his daughter, Khloe. Martinez will open the season on the injured list.

• Shildt described his Wednesday morning meeting with members of the Cardinals’ ownership group as “very positive.”

“It’s a room with expectations,” he added. “We just talked about the offseason, talked about our spring and talked about our roster looking into the season. It was a welcoming group, a very supportive group.”

Up next

The Cardinals will play day-night split-squad games on Thursday, beginning with a home contest against the Yankees at 12:05 p.m. CT. Jake Woodford will be plucked from Minor League camp to start the game for St. Louis. The nightcap (6:35 p.m. CT) in West Palm Beach against the Nationals will feature right-hander Chris Beck and a run of relievers. The Cards plan to utilize the designated hitter in both games.