Even though they will be facing the Miami Marlins and not the New York Mets, the St. Louis Cardinals will have Matt Bowman start on Wednesday instead of Michael Wacha–who will instead get his work in a minor league game.
“It’s the combination of the two,” explained Mike Matheny. “The Mets certainly play into it when facing them, which we have two more times–which is strange. But after that, it’s getting them stretched in a controlled setting and making sure we get them the work they need to get.”
That has been the case with the last two games, as the Cardinals had both Carlos Martinez and Adam Wainwright pitch against opposing prospects on the back fields. Wacha will follow suit and Matheny shared the team is still “talking through” if any of their starters will pitch in a remaining Grapefruit League game.
In the meantime, Bowman is ready to go for his one inning to start things off.
“I’ve thrown on backfields and started one of those games, so I’m ready for it,” he chuckled. The plan will be just to keep things like a relief appearance.
“You just make sure to don’t get ready too early,” explained Bowman. “If the game’s at 1:05 tomorrow, then I’ll try and wait as long as I can. A lot of times you go out there at 12:45 and you watch the starter is already on the mound. But I’ll try to wait as long as I can.”
As serious as he will be about keeping to routine, Bowman allowed that he will likely have some extra fun with the start in the morning.
“I may do a bit now that I know–it will be headphones, hoodies, etc,” he laughed.
In seven appearances this spring, Bowman has a save and has allowed two runs in seven innings pitched with six strikeouts. He has stranded all six of his inherited runners and held opponents to a .143 batting average (3-21).
“There were a few things I wanted to work on in Spring Training but I know as I treated the last two Spring Trainings, you have to prove something,” said Bowman, who is aware that he is one of the relievers that still has contract options. “I won’t treat it any differently once the year starts or as these last few outings go. You’re trying to prove that you should be on the team and it’s not a moment where you’re like ‘I made the team’ it’s like everyday you go out and prove that you’re useful to the club and that you can help out.”
Working on a few things has been encouraged by Mike Maddux, who’s told the pitchers not to just think about it in the bullpen but try things out in game situations.
“He’s been great,” said Bowman. “A big thing with him is what I mentioned before–he was like Spring Training, we want results. We want you to be good at it, but also you need to find out. This is the time to tinker with a few things. He’s been comfortable in letting us know that we can tinker and giving us some feedback as to whether it’s something we should stick with or not stick with.
“I think that’s been really nice for him to be like ‘hey, you can work on something, if it doesn’t work out I’ll let them know that I told you to work on it’ and that sort of freedom to try and build on top of what you already are I think has been really nice.”
photo credit: Brian Stull/STLBaseballWeekly.com