PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- After acquiring his work visa in Haiti earlier this week, Jose Adolis Garcia made his Grapefruit League debut on Friday and tallied his first RBI in the team's 16-2 loss to the Mets.Garcia, a Cuban defector, has been working out with the Cardinals since signing
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- After acquiring his work visa in Haiti earlier this week, Jose Adolis Garcia made his Grapefruit League debut on Friday and tallied his first RBI in the team's 16-2 loss to the Mets.
Garcia, a Cuban defector, has been working out with the Cardinals since signing on Feb. 24. He was not permitted to appear in big league Spring Training games, however, until that work visa was in hand.
Garcia replaced Tommy Pham in the third inning, struck out in his first at-bat and then contributed a seventh-inning sacrifice fly. The Cardinals plan to keep Garcia in Major League camp for a while to get a longer look at him. Then, he'll head to the Minors.
• Spring Training: Info | Tickets | Schedule | Gear
General manager John Mozeliak indicated that Cardinals are leaning toward sending Garcia, 24, to Double-A to open the season.
"I think the most important thing now is to get him into a routine and playing every day," Mozeliak said. "We can be patient."
Pham required three stitches to his upper lift after suffering a laceration when his helmet came off and hit his face during a slide into second base. The incident occurred in the third inning, after Pham had drawn a pair of walks off Steven Matz.
Pham expects to get the stitches removed next Wednesday, and he'll continue playing in the meantime. It's the second time he's had his lip stitched up.
"I'm getting uglier by the day," Pham joked. "When I was a kid, I thought I was a big-time skateboarder. I was trying to do a big-time trick, fell and cut my lip. It's not a good look. When you're single and keep getting stiches on your face, it's not helping me at all."
Still in suspense
It's been two weeks since the Cubs announced their plans to start Jonathan Lester in the team's season opener against the Cardinals on April 2. As for who Lester will face, the Cards remain mum.
Manager Mike Matheny has still not finalized his Opening Day pitching plans. Carlos Martinez and Adam Wainwright stand out as two candidates, but the decision has been complicated by the fact that Martinez is away at the World Baseball Classic.
"This isn't avoidance," Matheny said. "It's not a hurry. Let's keep watching and making sure we don't get somebody committed to a spot they might not be ready for, whether it's physically or anything else that might be in the way. We will just take or our time."
Depending on how deep the Dominican team advances, it could be another week before Martinez returns to camp. It's unlikely the Cardinals will announce their Opening Day starter before then.
The Cardinals announced plans to stream eight Spanish language home audio broadcasts via cardinals.com and the MLB.com At Bat mobile app this season. Those broadcasts will feature play-by-play announcer Polo Ascencio and Bengie Molina, the Cardinals' former assistant hitting coach and older brother to catcher Yadier.
Games selected for broadcast include April 2 (Opening Night), April 4, April 9, May 2-3 and May 29-31.
The Cardinals have also attempted to increase their reach to Spanish-speaking fans by launching a Spanish language Facebook page (facebook.com/stlcardenales), Twitter account (@cardenales) and Spanish video page (cardinals.com/loscardenales) on the team's website.
Odds and ends
• Matt Carpenter, who has been battling back tightness since the start of the month, had no restrictions as he returned to the lineup on Friday. Carpenter went 0-for-2 and played four innings in the field.
"I'm knocking some of the rust off, but I felt like I saw the ball," Carpenter said afterward. "I felt like I was in a good position to hit. I feel like I'm right there. I should be building on it every day."
• The Cardinals discarded the designated hitter on Friday and had Wainwright bat in the ninth spot. Matheny said the team had initially planned to use a DH through next Monday but opted, instead, to give the starting pitchers the extra at-bats.
Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast.