Notes: Gant and Gomber shine; first roster cuts

March 8th, 2020

JUPITER, Fla. -- Every time , and any of the other rotation candidates take the ball this spring, they’re making their pitch for one of two open spots in the St. Louis rotation. During Saturday's 5-1 win over the Astros, Gant made his case with four scoreless innings, and Gomber followed, allowing one run in three innings.

Gant threw 52 pitches (31 strikes) and struck out three while allowing one hit. Last spring, he was on the verge of making the rotation until the last few days when emerged as the fifth starter. Gant was moved to the bullpen and ended up being a valuable setup man there for the Cardinals.

“Any time you get a chance to compete is a good thing,” Gant said. “Take those as they come. Felt good, felt pretty dialed in with my stuff today. Just trying to pitch to contact. … Even if I find myself in the bullpen, these touches are astronomical for the rest of the year. Just to get dialed in and get our stuff working.”

Gomber spent most of 2019 on the injured list dealing with a left biceps injury and shoulder weakness. He’s shown he can compete in the Majors; he made 11 starts and appeared in 29 games for the Cardinals in 2018 and went 6-2 with a 4.44 ERA. On Saturday, he struck out three and walked one with 45 pitches (27 strikes).

“I think there’s a spot on the club for me, whether that’s out of camp or whenever that may be,” Gomber said. “I feel like I can pitch in the big leagues, I feel like I’ve proven that I can have success in the big leagues, and it’s just about waiting for the opportunity, and when you get it, taking advantage of it.”

Cardinals encourage players to pre-sign items as coronavirus spreads
Team officials met with players Saturday morning to discuss team policies in regard to the spread of coronavirus. President of baseball operations John Mozeliak said the Cardinals aren’t setting any “hard and fast limitations” with fan interaction, but they are encouraging players to pre-sign items to throw to fans during Spring Training games. The Cardinals are working with MLB and the CDC to come up with habits and policies to limit the spread of the virus.

The team has decided to leave most of the decisions about fan interaction up to the players.

“If, for example, a player has a Sharpie in his pocket and wants to sign something, that’s up to him,” Mozeliak said. “If he feels comfortable, then putting hand sanitizer on, that’s up to him. But we’re going to try to provide them with a resource if they want to send something to the fans. That engagement, we’re not trying to end, we’re just trying to minimize contact.”

Spring roster cuts
Starting to carve out their roster, the Cardinals made the first wave of spring roster cuts on Saturday.

Left-hander Ricardo Sánchez and third baseman Elehuris Montero were optioned to Double-A Springfield, and right-hander Alvaro Seijas was optioned to Class A Advanced Palm Beach.

Reassigned to Minor League camp was a group of non-roster invites: right-handers Akeem Bostick, Nabil Crismatt, Seth Elledge, Alex FaGalde, Griffin Roberts, Angel Rondon and Ramon Santos; infielder Luken Baker; and catchers Julio Rodriguez and Alexis Wilson.

The Cardinals opened camp with 71 players, and with a little under three weeks to go until Opening Day, there are 57 remaining in Major League camp as starters and those competing for a roster spot in St. Louis ramp up their workload.

“It’s hard to imagine, but two weeks from tomorrow is our last day here,” Mozeliak said. “So innings and playing time are starting to dwindle.”

Rehab roundup
• Mozeliak agreed when asked if Andrew Miller is doubtful to be ready for Opening Day. The veteran left-handed reliever is undergoing tests to try to determine the lack of feel he has when pitching. There wasn’t an update on the results of those tests Saturday, and Miller threw a light bullpen Saturday morning. He has only pitched one inning in live game action this spring.

• Brad Miller was not in the lineup Saturday, almost a week after he was scratched from the lineup with back stiffness. Despite being a little behind schedule for a return, the 30-year-old infielder is taking swings, manager Mike Shildt said, and being held back is out of caution.

“Still a couple days away from being considered getting back into games, I imagine,” Shildt said. “Maybe a hair longer. But he’s been cautious, we’ve been cautious, and we still feel like we’re in a good spot with him.”

No day off for Shildt
A day after he got married, Shildt was back at the Cardinals complex getting ready to manage Saturday’s game. He declined Mozeliak’s offer to take a day off to celebrate the wedding, even though he and his wife, Michelle, thought about it.

“I feel more complete today,” Shildt said. “We pondered it, but I have an accountability to this group out here. I think it’s important we show up, and she wouldn’t want it any other way.”

Up next
The Cardinals stay in Jupiter, Fla., on Sunday to host the Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium. Hudson is scheduled to start and throw up to five innings or 75 pitches, with Genesis Cabrera scheduled to follow with three innings. John Brebbia and Kodi Whitley are also on the schedule with an inning apiece. First pitch is scheduled for 12:05 p.m. CT. Watch the game live on MLB.TV.