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Ozzie steps in for DP drills at Cardinals camp

Wong: 'A pleasure and honor' to take grounders with the HOF shortstop
MLB.com @LangoschMLB

JUPITER, Fla. -- There he was, the Hall of Fame shortstop flexing his golden glove along the lip of the outfield grass while Cardinals infielders began their 15 minutes of defensive work early in Wednesday's workout. Ozzie Smith watched and smiled, and then he got the nudge.

Treating fans who had gathered around Field 2 of the Cardinals' spring complex, Smith, now 61, showed that he still has the steady hands and accurate arm, while trading places with Matt Carpenter during a double-play drill. "You've still got it," Carpenter yelled after Smith picked a ball on a short hop.

JUPITER, Fla. -- There he was, the Hall of Fame shortstop flexing his golden glove along the lip of the outfield grass while Cardinals infielders began their 15 minutes of defensive work early in Wednesday's workout. Ozzie Smith watched and smiled, and then he got the nudge.

Treating fans who had gathered around Field 2 of the Cardinals' spring complex, Smith, now 61, showed that he still has the steady hands and accurate arm, while trading places with Matt Carpenter during a double-play drill. "You've still got it," Carpenter yelled after Smith picked a ball on a short hop.

It was a special scene -- one that's happened in camp before, but is nevertheless a snapshot that never becomes tired for the current Cardinals in uniform.

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"It's always a pleasure and honor to take ground balls with him," said second baseman Kolten Wong, after his work alongside Smith. "But throwing to him, I was a little nervous. I was like, 'Man, I'm throwing to a legend right now. I better make sure I throw these balls right in his chest.' How good he still looks now, you can only imagine how good he was back then. Playing with that guy must have been something special."

Wong now settles for learning from him. Cardinals legends like Smith will come and go over the next five weeks, making an impression while they're around and an impact even after they depart. A few springs back, it was Smith who alerted Wong to the double-clutching habit the second baseman had inadvertently picked up.

"You can tell he's worked on that and gotten rid of it," Smith said on Wednesday. "That was the only thing that I thought slowed him down. His progress has been good. Hopefully, he continues to improve."

The two talk more than fielding, too. Smith is among those who has encouraged Wong to be more aggressive on the basepaths this year. He also believes Wong will find his sweet spot as a hitter by using more of the field.

Smith, who was joined in uniform by former Cardinals Jim Edmonds, Willie McGee and Red Schoendienst on Wednesday, will work with this year's club for another week before returning to St. Louis.

"This was so much a part of our lives that it's always nice to get away from the cold," Smith said. "This is a nice place to come."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB, like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com and listen to her podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

St. Louis Cardinals, Kolten Wong