Carlos Martinez started today’s game for the St. Louis Cardinals. Then John Gast came in for relief. And then Carlos Villanueva–a role which suits the 31-year old right-hander just fine.
“It doesn’t take long or much for me to get ready,” said Villanueva recently. “I know what I’m doing at this point when it comes to getting ready to pitch for a full season. I’m simple. Whatever they need me to do. You won’t hear me complain very much.”
Villanueva, who was signed to a minor league contract with an invite to Spring Training, had offers on the table from other teams, but chose to sign with St. Louis–even without the guarantee of making the big league roster.
“The definition of a winner for me, my whole career playing in this division, has been the Cardinals,” said Villanueva. “To be honest with you, when the off-season started, I told my agent I would like to go away from the Central a little bit because I had been here, but that all changed when I got that call from the Cardinals. I told him that changes everything.”
With the Cardinals needing to keep an eye on the innings of several of their starting pitchers and provide depth for a bullpen that was forced to rely heavily on limited arms at times last season, Villanueva fits the bill as a swing pitcher.
“I signed up here to do what I’ve done my whole career, which is a little bit of everything,” he said. “I’ve worn many hats in my career and I have no problem doing that–especially on a winning team like this. I feel like what I can do goes a lot further on a team like this when you can spell a starter and spell your main bullpen guys. You can go multiple innings here and there and bounce back and keep everybody fresh, you have that versatility which I think it accentuates more on a winning team because the guys you need ready are ready more often.”
Villanueva has made 76 starts out of the 390 appearances in his career and has held opponents to a .226 average as a reliever.
–While the team was in Kissimmee to take on the Astros, both Adam Wainwright and John Lackey remained in Jupiter and threw bullpen sessions in the morning.
Lance Lynn was also present, but due to his mild hip flexor strain, is not scheduled to play catch until tomorrow.
Cal Eldred, who is now a special assistant to General Manager John Mozeliak, oversaw the morning workouts.
–Former closer Jason Isringhausen arrived in Spring Training today, ready to begin a tw0-week stint working with the minor leaguers in camp.