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Cardinals Spring Training

Mark McGwire (right) talks with John Mabry, the man who has succeeded him as Cardinals hitting coach, during spring training last February.

Former big-league pitcher Jason Simontacchi and former Boston Red Sox pitching coach Randy Niemann are joining the Cardinals’ minor-league coaching staffs for the 2013 season, the club announced Friday.

Niemann, who started 2012 as the Red Sox assistant pitching coach and took over the lead role late in the season, will be Class AA Springfield’s pitching coach. The former big-league reliever spent 24 years with the New York Mets, coaching at every level and serving in the majors as the bullpen coach.

At Class AA Springfield, Niemann will oversee a pitching staff that could include some of the Cardinals’ top pitching prospects, such as Carlos Martinez, first-round pick Michael Wacha, reliever Jordan Swagerty and Seth Blair.

Simontacchi, who pitched for the Cardinals from 2002 to ’04, will serve as pitching coach for low Class A Peoria.

Niemann’s appointment at Class AA corresponds with Bryan Eversgerd’s promotion to Class AAA Memphis. He’ll serve on Pop Warner’s staff. Warner returns to Memphis for a second season as the Cardinals’ highest affiliate’s manager.

Mike Shildt will serve as manager for Springfield, where he helped guide the S-Cards to the Texas League championship. Johnny Rodriguez and Steve Turco will return as managers for high Class A Palm Beach and rookie-level Gulf Coast League, respectively.

Dann Bilardello will move up to manage the Cardinals’ return to Peoria, Ill., in 2013. Oliver Marmol has been promoted to manager of short-season Class A State College (Pa.). And Joe Kruzel, a hitting coach at low Class A this past season, will manage rookie-level Johnson City.

Erik Pappas, a catcher for the Cardinals from 1993-94, has joined the organization as the hitting coach for the Peoria Chiefs.


The Cardinals plan to have at least one member of the front office attend a workout later this month scheduled for two Cuban free agents, shortstop Aledmys Diaz and outfielder Dariel Alvarez. Diaz, the player the Cardinals are specifically going to see, turns 23 on Tuesday. Both players have been in Mexico to establish their free agency after defecting. … The Cardinals will send four players to the rookie orientation program hosted by Major League Baseball and the players’ union next week in the Washington area: Trevor Rosenthal, Carlos Martinez, Matt Adams and Kolten Wong, who will be flying in from his native Hawaii to attend. The program is an annual gathering to introduce top prospects to the challenges beyond the ballpark that come with being in the big leagues. Invitees are considered on the verge of reaching the majors.

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