The transition to the St. Louis Cardinals has been an easy one for pitcher Brett Cecil this spring. Signed to a four-year contract during the off-season, the reliever has found that other than getting to know his new teammates, there hasn’t been too much different from years past in Toronto.
“That’s probably the main thing,” agreed Cecil. “Getting to know the teammates, everything else is pretty similar. Do the same thing–get here early, workout, stretch, throw, take BP, do a team fundamental or work on PFPs by yourself. The only new thing besides teammates was I had a bat and helmet waiting in my locker and had bunting stations and pitcher’s offense. Other than that, it’s pretty similar.”
“It’s good–they’re easy guys to get along with,” said Cecil. “The thing I like most is everybody kind of either chats with everybody or anybody can get on somebody messing around. There’s not really any cliques in terms of position players here, catchers there, pitchers here. I’m not saying Toronto was very cliquey, but it’s a hard thing not to do–with any team. Football, defensive guys want to hang out with defensive guys. It’s normal.
“I feel like it all starts with Waino. Just seeing him go around the clubhouse–one day he’ll eat lunch with us, one day he’ll eat with young guys. He seems to make a point to get around and get to know everybody that’s in camp, not just the big league hitters or pitchers. He makes sure the prospects who get invited to camp, he makes sure he’s sociable with them It’s good to see. It’s new to me and I like it.”
Last season, new teammates Jedd Gyorko and Brandon Moss were almost instantly joined at the hip. Cecil has yet to find that one kindred spirit.
“No–and it’s kind of everybody,” he said. “I feel like this team wants everybody to feel like that could be anybody on the team. Which goes back to saying everybody talks to everybody, everybody hangs out together, that’s the vibe I get from being around these guys a couple weeks now. Everybody’s there for everybody and everybody’s got everybody’s back.”
As good as the new relationships have been, the left-hander admits to looking forward to working more with Yadier Molina before the start of the season.
“I would like to throw to him a little bit more, just for my sake–I don’t think he needs it,” smiled Cecil, who only got to throw to Molina once before he had left for WBC action.
“It was funny because the first time he ever caught me was in a game,” shared Cecil. “I wanted to throw a cutter and I think he knew, generally, what pitches I threw. But as far as the cutter, he put a three down and I remember coming set and I was like man, I don’t know if I should throw this because I don’t know if he thinks it’s a cutter or he thinks it’s a big slider or what? Sure enough, he thought it was going to be a big slider, but you wouldn’t know that by the way he caught the pitch. It was almost like a vacuum. He didn’t flinch, didn’t do anything.”
Besides the cutter, Cecil also has a unique curveball.
“It’s tough for a new guy to catch me because I can throw a good curveball and it’ll be nice and sharp, but it won’t have that big of a break,” he explained. “And sometimes, it’ll look the same and it will have a bigger break to it so I feel it’s a little tougher for catchers.”
Because of that, Cecil threw a flat ground with Carson Kelly to show all of his pitches at least twice. He had already pitched to Eric Fryer in bullpen sessions.
“I don’t necessarily try to throw it for a strike, I don’t necessarily try to throw it for a ball,” continued Cecil on his curve. “I mean it can go from one pitch to the very next pitch and it can be different. I can throw a tight one that doesn’t break, I can throw a tight one that has a bigger break.”
This past weekend, Cecil became the first Cardinals reliever to appear in back to back games, throwing a scoreless inning on both Saturday and Sunday. Alberto Rosario and Kelly were behind the plate.
photo credit: STLBaseballWeekly.com