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Edman, hitting ninth, will serve as second leadoff man for Cardinals

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St. Louis Cardinals beat the Houston Astros 4-2 in first game of spring training in Jupiter

St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Tommy Edman and shortstop Paul DeJong practice are on sync during a base running drill before the start of the Cardinals first game of spring training against the Houston Astros on Friday, March 18, 2022, at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium in Jupiter, Fla. Photo by Laurie Skrivan, lskrivan@post-dispatch.com

JUPITER, Fla. — Much has been made about the upper part of the Cardinals’ lineup, which has three 30-homer hitters returning from last season in Paul Goldschmidt, Tyler O’Neill and Nolan Arenado, and now Dylan Carlson’s 18 home runs have been transferred to the leadoff spot from No. 5.

Albert Pujols, Paul DeJong and Yadier Molina, who have put up power numbers in varying degrees, ranging from Pujols’ 679 home runs on down, will be next. And then the bottom of the DH-mandated Cardinals lineup now is the speed portion of the club.

Harrison Bader doesn’t steal that much but he had nine thefts in 13 tries last season and Tommy Edman, who does steal that much, had 30 (in only 35 tries), which was second in the National League. Bader will hit eighth and Edman ninth on Thursday.

But the switch-hitting Edman had just two hits in 24 at-bats this spring, including a double while batting right-handed in Tuesday’s 7-0 win over Miami. And, with Carlson performing much better at .292, that dropped Edman all the way to ninth, where he still could be a leadoff man.

With this new-fangled DH in play, the ninth-place hitter can serve as a second leadoff man when the lineup turns over again.

Edman still will be hitting in front of the power hitters, as he was last year when he scored 91 runs.

“The speed is a good component (to the No. 9 slot),” said manager Oliver Marmol. “When you had Edman leading off, those guys (Goldschmidt, etc.) really like him being on base as a distraction — in certain counts getting more fastballs because (pitchers) were not wanting him to take the bag.

“Jack (Flaherty) described it this way: ‘If Edman is on first and I’m having to throw to the middle of our lineup, it’s uncomfortable.’”

Continuing, Marmol said, “Having (Edman) at the bottom of the lineup helps create that second leadoff (man) where he still serves as that distraction if he’s on base.”

In theory, Bader could run ahead of Edman because the latter is a good bat handler but Marmol didn’t seem overly sold with the hit-and-run play. “There’s spots for it,” said Marmol, but he said he would prefer the straight steal to the hit-and-run.

Edman said that being a second leadoff man would be no different than the first leadoff guy. “I don’t really change my approach either way,” he said. “I’m still trying to get on base for those guys to drive me in.”

Edman spent much of his spring working on his left-handed swing in which he could do more damage against high fastballs thrown by right-handers.

The numbers weren’t there on the field but he said, “I got some good cues to work on while I was in the cage. I think I really figured out some more things … that I will be incorporating into my routine. I’ve got a good mindset going into the season, and I’m ready to dominate this year.

“We’ve got a great group of position players, a great pitching staff and we’re excited to get going and go crush some teams.”

Asked if he was disappointed in being removed from the leadoff spot, Edman said, “You know that during the season that everything will even out. What the lineup starts as doesn’t mean what it’s going to be every single day.”

Big Mac is back

Former single-season home-run king Mark McGwire will be among 16 club Hall of Famers slated to be on hand for the opening day ceremonies. While returning favorite Pujols is likely to draw the loudest cheers from the big crowd when the players are being driven around the track, McGwire could draw the next biggest ones of the day.

But he will be challenged by the outpouring for the other Hall of Famers, which include National Baseball Hall of Famers Ozzie Smith, Whitey Herzog, Joe Torre, Ted Simmons and Bruce Sutter. Among the other Cardinal Hall of Famers who will be in the caravan are ever popular Willie McGee, Scott Rolen, Tom Herr, Jim Edmonds, Jason Isringhausen, Vince Coleman, John Tudor, Tim McCarver, Mike Shannon and Ray Lankford.

Wainwright to break tie with Gibson

Officially, this will be veteran Adam Wainwright’s seventh home opening day start for the Cardinals, which would be one more than National Baseball Hall of Famer Bob Gibson. Actually, Wainwright already has made seven. He was rained out of a potential victory against Colorado on March 31, 2008, when the Cardinals had a 5-1 lead in the fourth inning.

Extra bases

Instead of staying behind to face Class A hitters on Wednesday, Jake Woodford twirled a perfect inning of relief in Tuesday’s game. Potential starter Drew VerHagen also went north with the team after the game and will throw a side session during Wednesday’s off-day workout in St. Louis.

Right-hander Dakota Hudson, slated to pitch on Monday in the finale of a four-game set with Pittsburgh, will throw 75 to 80 pitches to Class A hitters here Wednesday and then hop on a plane to join his team for Thursday’s opener … Molina had two hits Tuesday, including one he stretched into a double. “He looked fast. He’s feeling good,” said Marmol.

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