Arenado enjoying seamless Cards transition

February 22nd, 2021

JUPITER, Fla. -- Two factors played into 's decision to arrive in Jupiter, Fla., a week before the remainder of position players did on Monday. The first was sleep adjustment; the California native needed to acquaint himself with the three-hour time jump, which will only be made easier by one hour when he moves to St. Louis in April.

The second was more logistical: Finding his way around a new Spring Training home, meeting people he needed to meet and getting a head start on his career as a Cardinal.

Though Monday was the official start of Arenado’s time in a Cards uniform -- the first full-squad workout day of Spring Training -- it came with an established comfort. The red worked well in place of purple, and the pullover -- and pants -- fit snug.

“Felt good to be out there with the team,” Arenado said, “putting pants on again.”

There were still some natural quirks, changes endured by anyone moving jobs. After 12 years in the Rockies’ organization, Arenado all of a sudden finds a new face next to his locker stall (which, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, belongs to Yadier Molina.) He has icebreaker questions to ask and answers to share of himself: family, where he’s from, interests and hobbies.

“All those little things that I'm not used to doing that I have to do now because I'm just getting to know these guys,” he said.

But signs are that it has been a positive, seamless transition -- on all fronts. Arenado took part in live batting practice on Monday, facing off against Tyler Webb and Jake Woodford in a hitting group with close friend Paul Goldschmidt and Matt Carpenter, later briefly joined by Molina.

Arenado is learning new drills, adapting to a defensively promising infield he’s excited about. And like with Goldschmidt during 2019 Spring Training, the Cardinals are learning about a superstar up close, one they’re hoping declines the two opt-outs in his contract and sticks around until 2027.

“He's acclimated really well, it seems like,” said manager Mike Shildt. “He’s enjoying getting started into the process of how we go about things. Just in general, it's going to be nice to see him out there and interacting and starting to be a part of our fabric of how we operate.”

One of the important conversations Arenado has already had was with Nolan Gorman, the club’s No. 2 prospect once thought to be the third baseman of the future. Gorman, for his part, has been taking reps at second base this spring and could see time in the corner-outfield spots. All signs there are positive, too.

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It's been all love between the two Nolans. The elder Nolan likes what he’s seen from the younger, and Gorman has expressed excitement to learn from Arenado. Both were early reports to camp, having gone on a golfing excursion in the Jupiter area together, Arenado said.

“That trade stuff is probably a weird adjustment, but it seems like he isn't complaining,” Arenado said. “... He seems like he's all-in and it looks like he wants to contribute, and that's the kind of player you want on your team. I believe he’ll have an impact with this one day, and hopefully it's sooner rather than later.”

Arenado has said that he holds a longstanding respect for the Cardinals, dating back to when he first played at Busch Stadium and was instructed by Troy Tulowitzki to observe how the club conducts itself in its routine. Now, getting enveloped, he’s finding it to be true first-hand.

“Everything I think about this organization has kind of come to light,” Arenado said.

“From an integration standpoint, I think he feels pretty good about the players and teammates he's meeting,” said president of baseball operations John Mozeliak. “... It'll just be that ebb and flow that he'll have to start to get used to from a St. Louis Cardinals perspective. But overall, I feel like the vibe in this camp has been very positive.”

There’s still plenty for Arenado to learn, soak in and impart over the course of this spring and, the club hopes, over his next seven years as a Cardinal.

At least for now, the California time change is one box checked off.

“I was hurting there for a while,” Arenado said, “but I’m good now.”