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Cards' new coaches get 1st chance to impress

Matheny thrilled to debut staff as Spring Training opens
MLB.com @LangoschMLB

ST. LOUIS -- Under expectations of a return to postseason play, the Cardinals will open Spring Training with their first official workout for pitchers and catchers on Wednesday. New faces will begin to find their fits, and familiar ones will start to solidify roster spots.

There will also be different voices leading the way.

ST. LOUIS -- Under expectations of a return to postseason play, the Cardinals will open Spring Training with their first official workout for pitchers and catchers on Wednesday. New faces will begin to find their fits, and familiar ones will start to solidify roster spots.

There will also be different voices leading the way.

For all the attention given to the team's offseason player acquisitions, the Cardinals insist that some of their most impactful moves included the addition of personnel who won't deliver a clutch hit or throw a single strike. Reorganizing manager Mike Matheny's coaching staff was a priority following an 83-win season, and the impact of a retooled staff should be seen right away this spring.

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"We need to be growing," Matheny said. "We need to be constantly searching for excellence, and I think as you bring in great people, you create an atmosphere where that's more likely to happen."

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

The additions of Jose Oquendo and Willie McGee were met with much fanfare in St. Louis, where the two have long been beloved figures in the organization. Oquendo returns to the third-base coaching box after a two-year hiatus and will lead infield instruction. McGee, a member of a big league coaching staff for the first time, will spend much of his time assisting with baserunning work and outfield drills.

Coming from outside the organization is Mike Maddux, just the third pitching coach the Cardinals have employed since 1996. His reputation and resume precede him, and the front office is hopeful that Maddux will have a louder voice alongside Matheny than former pitching coach Derek Lilliquist had. Incorporating more analytics into the team's pitching decisions is also a priority.

Video: Maddux on Wainwright leading the Cardinals' rotation

To complement Maddux, the Cardinals promoted Bryan Eversgerd to bullpen coach.

And while it will take some time for the new staff to gel, changes should be evident the day camp opens. With former bench coach David Bell also gone, the duty of scripting spring workouts and player assignments now falls on Mike Shildt.

Those workouts will begin in two days when a group of 32 pitchers (including 10 non-roster invitees) and seven catchers (five non-roster invitees) complete their physicals and take to the fields in Jupiter, Fla. Several have already arrived to get a head start on that work.

Five days later, the Cardinals will hold their first full-squad workout with 63 players participating. Grapefruit League play will then kick off on Feb. 23, five weeks ahead of Opening Day.

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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