After an off-season that included getting married, buying a house, and traveling to Haiti on a mission trip, pitcher Luke Weaver has another addition to his list–opening day starter for the Grapefruit League.
St. Louis Cardinals Manager Mike Matheny made the announcement on Wednesday morning that Weaver would take the mound when the team opens up their Spring Training games on Saturday against Miami.
“I don’t change any mentality or any mindset,” said Weaver recently about more innings being available because of the Alex Reyes injury. “I come in here trying to show them that I belong on the team. Just because something crazy like this jumps up out of nowhere, it doesn’t mean that I’m going to try even harder–I’m already trying my fullest. So I’m going to try and take advantage of it, mainly give them the toughest choice on having to pick where they want to put me.”
“So if I want to compare it to last year, there’s definitely a more of a comfortability,” explained Weaver, who was also in camp last year. “Just knowing I know more people and I have better relationships.
“But it doesn’t take away from the fact that I know I’m still a young guy and I don’t want to get too comfortable. I want to work hard and make sure I’m respecting everybody and getting my work in.”
An example of those growing relationships was the invitation from Adam Wainwright to join him on the Big League Impact mission trip to Haiti.
“That was an experience of a lifetime,” said Weaver. “You don’t get a chance to out to places like that often and when you do, they really take hold of your heart, your eyes, and allow you to feel what it’s like to be in their shoes–to feel how rough they have it and how good we have it over here. To me, the takeaway was just being thankful.”
“Kind of opening up your eyes a little wider,” he continued. “Not making you feel bad because you’re blessed with what you have and you’re put in this situation here in America, where you just need to be thankful and have that daily reminder and understand how bad other people have it. So when I complain now, I kind of look back at those visions of those people down there and it just makes me slap myself across the face.”
The two pitchers have also shared time in the same work groups, which is a benefit as Weaver continues to work on additional breaking pitches for his arsenal.
“Curveball, then cutter, slider–just kind of feeling it out there but I want to make sure in a game that I’m able to throw those for strikes and it’s a competitive pitch,” he said. “I don’t want to go in there and batters can eliminate a pitch. I want to go out there and show them that I can throw four for strikes and challenge the hitter even more.”
The grips are in place and it just a matter of repetition now for them to be a true compliment to his changeup.
“The changeup for me is just something I’ve thrown and it’s been there my whole life,” said Weaver. “That’s just something that doesn’t come with a lot of practice, it’s just there. These other pitches, the more reps I can get the better it’s going to be. That’s why I throw them as much as I can in these bullpens and especially these Spring Training games.”
photo credit: STLBaseballWeekly.com