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Mozeliak is on the hunt for help but says it's 'a bit premature' for Cardinals to make move

Mozeliak is on the hunt for help but says it's 'a bit premature' for Cardinals to make move

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Cardinals face Nationals in first game of spring training

St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Shildt (8) and President of baseball operations John Mozeliak talk on the field before the start of a preseason MLB baseball game at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Fla., on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. This is the first game of an abbreviated 24 game Grapefruit League season. Photo by Colter Peterson, cpeterson@post-dispatch.com

In this episode of Inside Pitch, sports columnists Jeff Gordon and Ben Frederickson preview the Cardinals' weekend series at Wrigley Field, where the team will attempt to make up ground on the division-leading Cubs and their fearless leader . . . Patrick Wisdom? That's right, the former Cardinals minor leaguer is swinging a big bat for the North Siders. Can Matt Carpenter's long-awaited breakthrough arrive at one of his favorite parks to hit? Ben Fred and Gordo wonder.

It has been a week now since Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said his injury-riddled club needed to add depth in some areas and that the Cardinals were likely to enter the trade market.

On Wednesday, Mozeliak, having surveyed potential partners, said, “You’re probably starting to see some clarity on how teams are looking at themselves in terms of them likely willing to break up the club they left camp with. But it’s still probably a bit premature (to trade) unless you’re willing to pay perhaps above market.

“It’s tricky, too, because there is a time when we will end up being healthy and trying to find what makes the most sense for us is going to take a little more than just what we want to chase,” Mozeliak said.

“The good news for us is I see us slowly getting healthy. It’s a different team in August. But I do think we have to engage in that trade market and see what that looks like.”

Mozeliak also is trying to help the Memphis AAA team, which has had injuries, too. One free agent who might be available at that level is righthander Shelby Miller, who was let go by the Chicago Cubs.

The Cardinals, before Wednesday, had lost all five home games since returning from a 10-game trip to play the Chicago White Sox, Arizona and Los Angeles. They were 5-5 on that trip but 5 also was the working number for what time they got home Thursday morning to start a series against a rested Cincinnati team that night.

“That trip was just tough, getting in at 5 a.m.,” Mozeliak said. “They’re not excuses. But it’s a demanding part of it.”

Pitching set vs. Cubs

After an off day on Thursday, righthanders Johan Oviedo (0-2, 5.25 earned run average), John Gant (4-3, 2.63) and Carlos Martinez (3-6, 6.21) are on tap to face the Cubs in Chicago this weekend. Martinez has given up 15 runs over his past 4 2/3 innings covering two games and manager Mike Shildt noted that Martinez was pitching to contact, but has been in contact more with the barrel of the bat than that concept is supposed to allow.

“Pitching to contact is pitching to weak contact and getting off the barrel and taking the strikeouts when they’re there,” said Shildt.

The strikeouts were there on Tuesday as Martinez registered seven of his 12 outs on strikeouts.

Molina back, DeJong next

Yadier Molina, out since Saturday with a bruised left knee when he was clipped by a foul tip, was in Wednesday’s lineup, handling Adam Wainwright as usual even though Molina probably was considerably shy of 100 percent.

“I don’t know who’s at 100 percent at this point,” said Shildt. “He clearly is coming off a trauma to his knee that I’m sure he’s dealing with at some level. But this is a guy, as we know, who (has) a high threshold of pain and is able to play at a high level regardless of how he feels.”

Shortstop Paul DeJong, whose rehab game at Class AAA Memphis was rained out on Tuesday, played in both games of the team’s doubleheader on Wednesday. In the opener, he flied to center, flied to right and hit into a double play. He came out of the second game after two at-bats, a strikeout and a pop up. He is one for 10 in four games with Memphis as he rehabs from a non-displaced rib fracture.

The plan is for him to return to St. Louis Thursday before the team travels to Chicago.

DeJohn in town

Longtime Cardinals field coordinator Mark DeJohn, who retired a couple of years ago, was on hand for a game with his brother. DeJohn lives in Connecticut and said he has taken to fishing. As for watching baseball, he said he was having a hard time staying engaged.

“It’s hard to watch baseball sometimes just the way it’s played,” he said. “It’s funny that the people who tried to change the game are now the ones who want to try to fix it.

“Does it make sense to you to move the mound back one foot? The more they change stuff, the more guys want to ... I don’t want to say cheat ... but to get an edge.

“People say in the old days that they doctored up the ball, too, but guys like Gaylord Perry were trying to get movement to get ground balls. They didn’t know anything about spin rate.

“It’s kind of sad right now to see how the game is played.

“I’ll sum it all up in one sentence: I’m glad Mr. (George) Kissell isn’t alive today to see this.”

The legendary Kissell ran the Cardinals’ farm system for decades but also worked with big leaguers, too.

“Pitchers don’t throw strikes. There’s no instructional league. You should embrace change. But they’ve embraced it way, way, too much,” said DeJohn.

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