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Brebbia bringing levity, smarts to Cards' camp

Reliever a boon to team chemistry; Cardinals scouting Lincecum; Fowler arrives in Florida
Special to MLB.com

JUPITER, Fla. -- Whether he's providing an in-depth explanation of tea or engaging in a lengthy conversation on the intricacies of growing grapes for wine, Cardinals reliever John Brebbia is good to have around in the clubhouse.

The classic long shot, Brebbia emerged from being a 30th-round Draft pick by the Yankees in 2011 and playing two seasons of independent ball after being released from the club in '13.

JUPITER, Fla. -- Whether he's providing an in-depth explanation of tea or engaging in a lengthy conversation on the intricacies of growing grapes for wine, Cardinals reliever John Brebbia is good to have around in the clubhouse.

The classic long shot, Brebbia emerged from being a 30th-round Draft pick by the Yankees in 2011 and playing two seasons of independent ball after being released from the club in '13.

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Brebbia signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2015, and was claimed off waivers by the Cardinals a short time later, working his way up to a May 28, 2017, debut in the Major Leagues. Brebbia appeared in 50 games for St. Louis last season, all out of the bullpen, while compiling an impressive 2.44 ERA.

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"This guy's funny," manager Mike Matheny said as he addressed the media late Thursday morning. "He's truly funny, but he's very smart, also."

It's that balance that managers look for and the rare quality necessary to keep a clubhouse in harmony.

"He brings a levity to the whole bullpen," Matheny continued. "Guys are getting their work done and he's very professional, but he naturally has a lot of fun while he does it. That's who he is and that's who he needs to be. I think the guys appreciate it."

Like Matt Bowman the year before, Brebbia has taken advantage of his opportunity and continues to earn high-leverage situations. He doesn't scare in the big situations, a characteristic that Matheny said is hard to teach.

Lincecum watch

The Cardinals are one of several Major League teams who have sent representatives to the Driveline Baseball facility, near Seattle, to watch Tim Lincecum throw. The 33-year-old two-time Cy Young Award winner is a free agent looking to make a comeback.

Lincecum did not pitch at all last season and hasn't been in a Major League game since a disappointing 2016 season with the Angels that followed hip surgery late in the 2015 season. He appeared in just nine starts for the Angels, posting a 9.16 ERA.

Fowler arrives

Dexter Fowler arrived in camp on Thursday and, not surprisingly, he was all smiles as he made his way through the clubhouse, greeting old friends and introducing himself to Cardinals newcomers. The fit and somewhat bulked up Fowler is, by all indications, ready and willing to work with assistant coach Willie McGee in his move from center to right field.

Full workout

Fourteen pitchers threw bullpen sessions on Thursday, the second official pitcher workout of the spring, including most of the projected starting rotation. Each threw one set of around 25 pitches. Between Wednesday and Thursday, everyone on the staff has thrown an official pen except for Brett Cecil and Alex Reyes.

Wainwright speed

Dropping from 249 pounds to a more lean 225, Adam Wainwright enters camp hoping to contribute in more ways than just on the mound.

"I might steal a few bases," Wainwright said on Thursday.

• Waino not thinking of retirement

He added that the last time he arrived in camp at that weight was 2010, when he set a career high for wins (20) and made his first of three All-Star appearances.

Glenn Sattell is a contributor to MLB.com.

St. Louis Cardinals, John Brebbia