When Nolan Arenado says he'll homer, listen

March 29th, 2021

, by his standards, has had a relatively quiet spring. Though he's done nothing but fit in with his new team -- both spiritually and strategically -- the Cardinals’ new third baseman entered Monday’s Grapefruit League finale -- a 3-3 tie with the Mets -- batting a modest .222.

Well, how about leaving Florida with one home run -- his first sporting the birds on the bat -- for good measure?

And to really make a mark, why not call it ahead of time?

“[Bench coach Oliver Marmol] said Nolan came up to him before the game and said, ‘I'm going to hit a homer and I'm going to shut it down,’” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. “ … I was just wondering if he was going to touch home plate and just keep on going down the line [for the exits].”

Arenado connected with a first-inning slider from Mets starter below the zone and hammered it a Statcast-projected 411 feet to left field. The star third baseman has said he needs around 50 at-bats to feel fully prepared for the regular season, and he’ll depart for Cincinnati on Monday evening just four off that mark. Still, a home run in at-bat No. 46 is quite the way to go out.

All told, Arenado wrapped up his camp with a .239/.321/.370 slash line, three doubles, the homer, four RBIs and six walks against four strikeouts. He was a mainstay in the lineup, appearing in the most games of any regular and earning widespread praise from his first Cardinals camp.

“I can't believe we hadn't had him for the last 10 years,” Adam Wainwright said early in camp.

Contrary to Shildt’s concerns, Arendo did in fact round the bases in full, pointing to Marmol as he made his way down the first-base line.

He’s fitting right in.

Other positive send-offs
Arenado wasn’t the only one to end camp on a high note. Though a modest achievement, found his second hit of the spring, driving in Justin Williams with a third-inning single while pinch-hitting for Wainwright, who hit a bit of a stumble himself, not making it out of the first inning before re-entering in the second.

Relegated to a bench role to start the season, Carpenter gave the Cardinals exactly what they want to see from him this season: entering in a pinch and putting good wood on a ball (102.5 mph exit velocity).

“He hit them where they weren’t,” Shildt said.

, who won the utility infielder role over non-roster candidates Max Moroff and José Rondón, also came through with his first big hit of spring, driving to left field a two-out homer in the ninth to salvage a tie and bring the Cardinals to 8-10-6 to close out Grapefruit League play.

Confirmation of his spot on the roster quelled some nerves, Sosa said.

“I definitely was more relaxed at the plate and during the game, and I felt like I was having a lot of fun,” Sosa said through translator Antonio Mujica. “So it felt like a big amount of pressure was taken off my shoulders, and I was just able to go out there and have fun.”

Up next
After traveling to Cincinnati on Monday night, where the Cards hope they can receive doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, the club will have an off-day Tuesday before a light workout day on Wednesday. All will lead up to Thursday's highly anticipated Opening Day tilt with Jack Flaherty on the mound, with first pitch set for 3:10 p.m. CT.