For the second time in as many games, Matt Bowman struck out a pair of batters as the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Atlanta Braves 9-4 this afternoon in Grapefruit League action. The sinker is still the go-to-pitch for the 25-year old righty, who is feeling more familiar in his surroundings this spring.
“Coming into the clubhouse it’s a very different feel,” said Bowman, who’s entering his second season with the organization. “Last year, I kept to myself–stayed out of everyone’s way. Now, I have a few friends in there and feel a little more comfortable.”
Last year, as a Rule 5 draft pick from the New York, Bowman was competing to stay on the 25-man roster or be offered back to the Mets. Not only did he remain with St. Louis, but he made 59 appearances for the club and saw his role grow as the season went on.
“Probably for about a month after the season ended, I took a deep breath and was like ‘w0w, that was really great, didn’t see that coming’,” said Bowman. “It was nice to look back on–fondly, certainly. But then once December and January rolled around it was more, you’ve got to try and make the team again. So I’m looking forward.”
As for the biggest adjustment Bowman found to life in the big leagues last season, it had more to do with off the field than on it.
“I thought it was very interesting–there’s an independence there,” he said. “I guess through the minor leagues, I had felt they sort of held your hand and there was a lot of ‘rah-rah’ but in the big leagues, it was very professional. You’re here to do a job. You’re going to do that job and we don’t need to tell you to do it because it’s the expectation. I felt like that was a really good way to go about it and I think it breeds good results.”
Those results included inducing batters to hit into eight double plays last season–tops amongst the Cardinals relievers.
“I thought it was a breath of fresh air,” continued Bowman. “They trust your process. Certainly, you’re not going off the rails and not understanding what you do–they keep you between the lines but for the most part. They say you do your thing and as along as you bring the right results and you bring the right effort, we’re going to let you do your thing.”
Thus far in Spring Training, Bowman is once again doing his thing. He has now appeared in two games–picking up a save and striking out four batters in the 2.0 innings pitched.
“Last year, I knew I had to be in mid-season form basically coming down here because they had no idea what to expect,” he explained. “This year, I don’t think I’m treating it all that differently. I want to make the team. I know they can send me to Memphis to start the year, or for the whole year–who knows? But I definitely want to be on that big league club all year if I can.”
photo credit: Steve Mitchell, Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports,