Shildt excited for first Spring Training at the helm

Manager sees camp as 'an extension' of last season's progress

February 18th, 2019
St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Shildt, left, talks with catcher Julio Rodriguez during spring training baseball practice Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019, in Jupiter, Fla. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)Jeff Roberson/AP

JUPITER, Fla. -- Though this was his first day of his first Spring Training as manager of the Cardinals, Mike Shildt said he views it more as a continuous process from the 2018 season rather than a new beginning.

"It's just an extension of what we left off in the season last year and the last game," said Shildt, who became the Cardinals' interim manager on July 14. "And we've been in concert with the staff and in concert with the players. Communication has been an open flow. So it's really been an extension of that more in a group setting. It's just nice to have everybody back and be able to do it together again.:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

"We set the tone. We set the expectations."

The vision for what the club wants to accomplish and getting everyone on the same page before setting foot on the field for the first time was a priority.

"It's really about principles that we talk about," Shildt said. "Continuing to hold ourselves accountable, too. Just a reminder really. We're talking about a clubhouse that's had success both individually and collectively."

Of course, the ultimate expectation is winning it all. That's a given, but getting there was the focus of the first full-team meeting.

"It's play the game right, it's attention to detail, it's do everything to prepare well, execute and celebrate," Shildt said. "I think it's understood that [a World Series trophy] is an expectation for this organization, to compete and go after No. 12."

From where the team ended up last season to this offseason's moves, all systems are go towards achieving that goal.

"We address and evaluate the club from last year, and the good news is that with 88 wins a good percentage of that group is back that assisted in that," Shildt said. "Then you add a , who is one of the top five players in baseball."

Just saying the name brought a big smile to Shildt's face.

Martinez's role TBD

With the addition of Goldschmidt, finding at-bats for could prove to be a tall task, but Shildt is confident that the two parties are on the same page as far as Martinez's role on the team this season.

"Based on competition, we'll use him appropriately," Shildt said. "He's a dangerous weapon whether he's in the lineup or off the bench. It's our job to create the best scenario for him. He's definitely a big part of our club."

Martinez played in 84 games at first base last season, and on the year, he batted .305 in 152 games for St. Louis.

Placing Goldschmidt and Ozuna in the lineup

Figuring out where to position both Goldschmidt and a healthy is a good problem to have. That decision ultimately rests in the hands of Shildt, who has given it some thought, but isn't about to make any declaration.

"I'm not going to announce it. I don't have an announcement to make," Shildt said. "I know [Goldschmidt] is going to hit in the top three and [] will [lead off], so we can do the math from there.

"I'm getting pretty excited about it. You're talking about two strong presences in your lineup that people have to account for. And that makes everybody better. Don't forget, we've got other guys that can do damage around them."

Ozuna is cleared to perform baseball activities following offseason shoulder surgery. He remains limited, but maintains a throwing program, which is progressing as anticipated. Ozuna is expected to be available for DH duties at the start of the Grapefruit League.

Tweaking live BP sessions

Shildt had hinted at some subtle changes to the Cardinals' live BP sessions, and he shed a little more light on them on Monday.

"We're just going to be mindful of the position players, and they're going to stay on the same field and continue to work," he said.

Pitchers will be split up on the fields so that every hitter sees right-handed and left-handed pitchers, and every pitcher will face right-handed and left-handed batters.

"It's not reinventing the wheel, but simply attention to detail," Shildt said.