(KSDK Sports) - When the Giants made the final out of the 2012 NLCS sending them to the World Series, there was probably a space of about an hour, maybe two, where Cardinals Manager Mike Matheny was not thinking ahead toward 2013.
But wallowing in a loss is not something anyone wants to do, especially a rookie manager who guided his new team a game away from the World Series. So it wasn't too long later that Matheny probably began thinking of next season, and how he might better prepare his club to make it all the way.
During his post-season exit meetings with the players, Matheny told all his pitchers to "stretch it out" over the off-season. "Plan on coming to Spring Training to be a starter."
That is more easily said than done.
"But all of them have the background of doing just that," said Cardinals pitching coach Derek Lilliquist. "The trick is to prepare yourself mentally to come to camp to be a starter, than use camp time to get prepare your body to be a starter, and then game times is where you build up to be a starter."
To do that is to use the spring games as almost a progression. First time out a pitcher will work two or three innings with the hope of making those innings efficient, while at the same time making sure to get enough throws in. Usually around 40 to 45 pitches are desired.
Pitching is both physical and mental. "Preparing yourself for the grind every fifth day is different from preparing yourself everyday to pitch," said Lilliquist.
And now with the absence of Chris Carpenter, the Cardinals are not only missing their ace, but a veteran presence in the clubhouse that every pitching coach prefers to have, because it's that veteran who can help younger pitchers work through the mental ware of losing and the physical exhaustion it takes to pitch deep into games.
"Initially at first, it'll have an effect, but then again we also have an Adam Wainwright and Jake Westbrook and they have been around Carpenter and learned from him. And sometimes it's time to pass the torch and that is a good thing."
For more insight form Coach Lilliquist, view the video above containing our interview conducted at the start of Spring Training in Jupiter, Florida.