The wind blowing in or the spacious confines of The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches didn’t make a difference as Jedd Gyorko hit his first home run of the Grapefruit League on Friday afternoon. The St. Louis Cardinals third baseman launched a fourth inning fastball that traveled over the wall more than 350 feet away, over the bullpen, and onto the concourse in left field.
“I hit that one pretty good,” smiled Gyorko this morning after. “It’s good to get the barrel on the ball in Spring Training. That’s more of what we’re trying to accomplish right now. We’re not trying to lead the league in hitting–which wouldn’t hurt, but at the same time we’re trying to make sure our swings are where they need to be. The movements are where they need to be, to get ready for Opening Day.”
And more so than getting his first home run out of the way, Gyorko was more happy about the way he went about the at-bat.
“I got down 0-2 and laid off a couple pitches, a couple of tough pitches, to get myself back into the count to get to a 3-2 count to get a better pitch to hit,” he reminded. “Just seeing the ball better as spring goes on and just put a good swing on it.”
Last season, Gyorko hit 20 home runs to follow up on his 30 long balls from 2016. He expects to have the same kind of power this year as he worked this off-season to lose some body fat and replace it with additional muscle mass.
“It still feels the same,” said Gyorko of the leverages in his swing. “Obviously, the body’s going to move a little different than it has before but nothing seems different or something that I’ve had to make an adjustment with so far. Everything feels the same and the swing is where it needs to be.”
The weight loss also has him moving better, but it might not be noticeable defensively.
“My first step is still where it was, I think it feels good,” said Gyorko. “I would say it’s going to be more evident on first to third, scoring from second as far as that goes. I’m not going to say my first step has gotten faster or something like that, but I feel like my body is moving more efficiently which would hopefully in the long run stay away from injuries.”
–Gyorko was among the players who stayed in camp as the Cardinals traveled to Orlando to take on the Atlanta Braves. Most of the veterans got their work completed during the morning and were able to enjoy a rare afternoon off.
Others like Dominic Leone, Tyler Lyons, and Ryan Sherriff went to the back fields and pitched in a Triple-A minor league game against the Washington prospects.
Carson Kelly also took advantage of the Triple-A game and Double-A game on the next field to bounce between the two and collect a single and double in about 10 at-bats on the afternoon.
photo credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports