With the Grapefruit League starting this weekend, things will begin to ramp up for those competing for a roster spot. Among those who know they have to battle to head north with the St. Louis Cardinals is Luke Voit.
Called up in June of last season, Voit appeared in 62 games for the Cardinals and did a more than solid job as a pinch-hitter (.303, 10-33). That is check in his favor. So is the power he provides as a starter or off the bench. But there is also the realization that a final roster spot may come down to the decision of whether or not to carry 12 or 13 pitchers.
In the meantime, Voit has focused on improving his outfield skills to go with first base and emergency catcher.
He began the work during the off-season and then arrived a few days early to Spring Training to get some extra tutelage from Willie McGee.
“Trying to get my footwork right,” shared Voit. “It’s more just trying to get reads off the bat, because that’s the best way in my opinion to get the best routes and get the different slices or cuts. Running down balls down the line, just kind of getting your right angles toward it, having to turn around because of the wind, stuff like that. It takes practice, I’ll have to keep working on it. Hopefully Mike will throw me out there a couple times.”
Last spring, Matt Adams experimented with trying to play outfield. But the situation with Voit at least differs in that he’s put in the work during an entire off-season.
“And I’ve got experience in the minors too,” reminded Voit, who logged just under 103 innings in left field for Springfield (AA) in 2016. “It’s not like I’m just coming out there like Matt (Adams) did last year. I’m not going to look like a loose cannon out there. I feel comfortable. I’m not 100 percent confident in it, but that comes with more reps and everything.”
There will be plenty of opportunity at first base as well, especially with Matt Carpenter dealing with back tightness. Mike Matheny noted that Voit was getting reps at the bag on Wednesday and should see some game action this weekend along with Jose Martinez and perhaps Patrick Wisdom.
–Pitcher John Brebbia is known around the clubhouse for his sense of humor and providing levity during the season. He also is pretty funny around the batting cage.
Prior to taking the mound for his pitching practice session, he “introduced” himself to Yadier Molina, asking if he it was okay to call his catcher “Yamo”.
He was denied.
Brebbia then let Dexter Fowler and Marcell Ozuna know that whoever hit the ball the farthest off him, he would later take for ice cream.
Ozuna had a particularly large smile and asked “Dippin’ Dots”?
While Brebbia made several quality pitches, Fowler jumped out to an early lead with a double into right field. He added another shot later, before Ozuna hit a rope off the fence in left. Both players believe they won and have ice cream coming their way.
Brebbia later shared he felt Ozuna won–his double went farther and Fowler was aware of what pitch was coming on one of his hits.
Either way, it looks like frozen treats are in the future for the trio.
SIGHTS AROUND CAMP
photo credit: Brian Stull/STLBaseballWeekly.com