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Rosenthal, other relievers excel

2014-03-08T16:00:00Z 2014-03-09T01:29:07Z Rosenthal, other relievers excelBy Rick Hummel rhummel@post-dispatch.com 314-340-8196 stltoday.com

JUPITER, Fla. _ Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal, making his first appearance of the spring after nursing a strained groin, worked a hitless fourth inning in his exhibition debut today.

But he was not the only reliever to excel as Sam Freeman, Tyler Lyons, Randy Choate and Pat Neshek also worked scoreless innings in a 4-4 tie with a split squad of Washington Nationals. The Cardinals remained at 2-4 in the Grapefruit League with their second tie in two days.

Cardinals starter Michael Wacha allowed one run in three innings, fanning three amid 51 pitches.

Manager Mike Matheny raved about Wacha's new-found cutter and his more familiar changeup.

"The cutter was absolutely something they had to think about," said Matheny. "And the changeup was there. He threw four of them in a row at one point and got a strikeout. That's pretty hard to do."

Rosenthal walked one hitter after relieving in the fourth and was clocked as high as 100 miles an hour, according to the Roger Dean Stadium radar apparatus.

"The ball was jumping out of his hand," said Matheny. "I'm watching him every pitch to see how his body reacts. I know the arm's right. I'm just making sure that leg is.

"He wasn't holding anything back," said Matheny, who also noted Rosenthal's ability to sprint to first base to cover the bag on one play.

As to the 100 mile an hour reading, Matheny said he had been told the gun here was "a little light."  Matheny said the club's radar results would be available later.

"If it's 104, I'll let you know," cracked Matheny. "It looked  like 100."

Infielder Greg Garcia singled home two runs in the eighth after Xavier Scruggs doubled in one to erase a three-run Washington lead built in the top of the inning on Destin Hood's home run off Zach Petrick after an infield error and infield hit.

The Cardinals will contest a fuller squad of Nationals at Viera,  Fla., on Sunday and that includes Washington ace Stephen Strasburg. Joe Kelly will start for the Cardinals.

J. Garcia to go to Andrews Clinic 

Lefthander Jaime Garcia, whose surgically repaired left shoulder acted up again this spring, will leave camp on Monday to fly to Birmingham, Ala., to continue his rehabilitation at Dr. James Andrews' clinic. Garcia recently had visited Andrews for a consultation in Pensacola, Fla.

Garcia may still be a couple of weeks away from throwing. 

Motte continues progress

Former closer Jason Motte, continuing his comeback from Tommy John elbow surgery of last May, threw a a high-intensity bullpen session today but Matheny said he was unsure when Motte would face hitters for the first time.

"There are too many unanswered questions to look too far ahead," said Matheny.

But, after Motte's throw, Matheny said, "Apparently it went real well. It didn't look like he was holding much back at all, which is good news."

Scoreless debut for Rosenthal

Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal, who missed the first week of exhibition games as he nursed a groin injury, made his spring debut a hitless one today against the Washington Nationals.

Rosenthal, relieving Michael Wacha in the fourth inning, walked Will Rhymes with two out but fanned former Cardinal Brock Peterson for the third out. He was clocked as high as 100 miles an hour, according to the Roger Dean Stadium radar apparatus.

Wacha allowed three hits, one of them a run-scoring scratch hit past third baseman Matt Carpenter, and struck out three in three innings as he threw 51 pitches, the high for a Cardinals starter this spring.

Reserve infielder Greg Garcia delivered a two-run single after a run-scoring double by Xavier Scruggs in the eighth inning to enable the Cardinals to erase a 4-1 Nationals lead built in the top of the inning.

Washington minor leaguer Destin Hood, who turned down a football scholarship to Alabama, cracked a three-run homer in the eighth inning after a Cardinals infield error and an infield hit to break a 1-1 tie.

Righthander Zach Petrick, pitching his first inning in relief, was tagged for the drive to right-center. Hood was here as an additional player to a split-squad roster for the Nationals.

Ellis single gives Cards 1-0 lead

Mark Ellis knocked in his first run of the spring for the Cardinals when he singled to score Yadier Molina from second base to give the Cardinals a 1-0 lead over Washington in the second inning of an exhibition game.

Molina had stolen a base as catcher Sandy Leon couldn't handle a Chris Young pitch.

Cardinals starter Michael Wacha, with the assist of a diving play by newly minted third baseman Matt Carpenter, set down the first six Nationals to face him, fanning two, before he headed for his third inning.

Rosenthal to appear sooner than later

The Cardinals will use what could pass for an opening-day lineup of position players today when they face the Washington Nationals in an exhibition game.

Jhonny Peralta will hit second and play shortstop. Mark Ellis will hit seventh and play second base. Jon Jay will hit eighth and play center field.

Oscar Taveras, who had a double in his first spring at-bat Friday, will bat ninth as the designated hitter today.

Righthander Michael Wacha will make his second spring start. Center fielder Peter Bourjos still is out with a hamstring injury. Closer Trevor Rosenthal, who has been out with a strained groin, is slated for his first relief outing of the season.

Manager Mike Matheny said he likely will employ Rosenthal earlier in the game in spring training rather than in the ninth.

"Toward the end of spring, it will be more situational," said Matheny. "But now it's just getting work in.

"It's always difficult to have closers face No. 94 and No. 96 (minor leaguers). They're just mad-hacking and those closers seem to leave spring training without a whole lot of confidence.

"Not that I'm anticipating that with Trevor, but that's something that typically happens. That's why I've tried to change my philosophy," said Matheny, meaning to have a pitcher such as his closer face hitters he would be more accustomed to seeing instead of minor leaguers.

Former closer Jason Motte, continuing his comeback from Tommy John elbow surgery of last May, threw a a high-intensity bullpen session today but Matheny said he was unsure when Motte would face hitters for the first time.

"There are too many unanswered questions to look too far ahead," said Matheny.

Cardinals lineup:

Carpenter 3b

Peralta ss

Holliday lf

Craig rf

Molina c

Adams 1b

Ellis 2b

Jay cf

Taveras dh

(Wacha p)

Washington lineup:

Rendon 2b

Carroll ss

McLouth cf

Hairston lf

Moore 1b

Rhymes 3b

Peterson dh

Leon c

Sousa Jr. rf

(Young p)

Rick is a baseball writer/columnist at the Post-Dispatch 

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Baseball writers Derrick Goold and Rick Hummel cover the Cardinals for the Post-Dispatch and STLtoday.com. They'll provide daily Cardinals updates here, from the start of spring training through the end of the season and beyond.

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