Notes: Mozeliak talks alternate site, Mikolas

March 3rd, 2021

JUPITER, Fla. -- With the news that the Triple-A baseball season has been pushed back a month, the Cardinals are in the initial stages of setting up their alternate training site once again.

Alternate training sites are set to return for about a month, with the hopes that the Triple-A season can begin in early May, around the same time the Double-A and Class A seasons are expected to start as well.

Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak addressed the topic on Wednesday, saying that Double-A Springfield is a candidate to host the alternate training site for the second consecutive season. Many details are still being discussed, given Missouri State University shares the facilities. An answer could become clearer over the course of the next week.

The changes will likely not impact the club’s top prospects, as players like Nolan Gorman (Cards' No. 2 prospect) and Matthew Liberatore (No. 3) were expected to begin the year at Double-A. Mozeliak said the alternate training site will be mainly for depth candidates for the Major League roster, and neither prospect falls into that category -- at least for now.

Players whose focus remains on development will stay in Florida. For players like Gorman and Liberatore, whose 2020 seasons were canceled due to the pandemic and who are playing their first games against other teams in nearly a year, they could continue to work out with equivalent players on the Marlins -- their neighbors at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium -- as the calendar flips to April.

“The reality is we feel like we have a lot of talent in this camp, we just have to make sure that who ultimately goes to our site is getting the work they need to continue to grow vs. the alternative, [which] would be to stay back here and continue to grow,” Mozeliak said. “So it's really just a balance.”

Mozeliak plans to have the Triple-A coaching staff run the alternate training site. Essentially, the sense is that the Cards plan to treat the camp as an instructional league-type site for their Triple-A bound players.

“As I look at how we build the roster for our alternate camp, it's really about making sure that we have protection for our Major League team,” Mozeliak said.

Though the addition of any alternate training site may provide clubs some wiggle room numbers-wise, Mozeliak said he does not foresee any Minor League deals to fill out that crop of players.

“I would imagine right now we feel like internally, we have enough talent in this camp to support our [alternate training site],” Mozeliak said. “But obviously, we have a month to go before we have to actually open. Lots of things could happen in those 30 days, but I feel pretty comfortable where we are.”

Mikolas update
Mozeliak, speaking on the Fox Sports Midwest broadcast as Wednesday’s 14-9 win over the Mets was in a rain delay, revealed that right-hander Miles Mikolas is dealing with shoulder stiffness, though the prognosis from the trainer’s room is positive and the hope is that it’s “not something that lingers for a week or two.”

Mikolas was originally scheduled to take part in a simulated game on Monday, but those plans were changed into a side session for this weekend as he continues to return from surgery to repair the flexor tendon in his right arm from last July.

“Ultimately, we just want to be patient with him,” Mozeliak said. “We have four weeks of Spring Training left. There’s no reason to try to accelerate something that might be a longer setback. … The way we’ll approach this right now is to be cautious, but ultimately, we are still hopeful that he’ll be contributing.”

Around the horn
• As he continues to fit into his new Cardinals uniform, Nolan Arenado has kept the firsts coming. On Tuesday, it was his first Cards hit, and on Wednesday, it was his first RBI, scoring Tommy Edman in the bottom of the first with a single.

• Arenado wasn’t the only one with a run-scoring hit on Wednesday. Catcher Andrew Knizner, who is looking to secure either a backup job or split time with Yadier Molina, went 2-for-3, including a two-run double in the third.

• An intriguing option for a bench role, José Rondón provided his first loud moments of spring. The 27-year-old infielder launched an RBI triple and a two-run homer as part of a 2-for-3 day at the dish -- on his birthday, no less.

“Looks like he’s got some tools that clearly play,” manager Mike Shildt said.