JUPITER, Fla. — 5 On Your Side sports director Frank Cusumano is in Jupiter all week covering the Cardinals at spring training. Here are his thoughts from day two of camp.
Frank's Jupiter Journal - Day 2
- If intensity were a virtue, Jack Flahtery would be a saint. Instead he will just have to settle for being one of the most valuable properties in the world.If you factor in age, talent and years of control, is their any pitcher on the planet earth who you would trade Flaherty for, anybody?
Today, Jack looked like he didn’t want to gloat on his success. If anybody could, it’s Jack. His .192 opponents batting average is the lowest by a Cardinal pitcher since his old friend, Bob Gibson’s historic 1968. His .91 earned run average in the second half was the third lowest since 1920.
During our interview, he talked about getting better, concentrating more and just being more consistent. Here’s my recommendation to the Cardinals, just make sure he’s a Cardinal for a long time, a long time.
- The scene I liked the most happened on field one. It was Jose Oquendo hitting ground balls to Kolten Wong and Paul DeJong.
Wong won the Gold Glove and DeJong was a finalist. DeJong said he called Wong the day the announcement was about to happen and asked if Kolten had heard any news. Kolten had actually known for weeks but said he didn’t know. Paul knew that Kolten did know. DeJong was so happy for his double play partner.
Last year, the two started working together in November in Jupiter. This year, they started right after the Winter Warm-Up. They do have a chemistry up the middle that may one day rival Ozzie Smith and Tommy Herr. The fact that they are such good friends makes it an even better story.
- I feel badly for Brett Cecil. Any time you mention his name on social media, he gets killed. The problem is when you give a guy 30 million bucks and he performs either poorly or can’t perform, you can’t defend him. And I won’t.
He told me today his carpal tunnel surgery affected his entire arm and the nerves in it. Very few in baseball have had the surgery. He’s 32 years old and this will likely be his last chance with the Cardinals. I am not saying last chance in baseball. After all, if you are lefthanded with a pulse, you always have a shot.
However, the Cardinals have some real depth from the left side in the bullpen. In Jupiter, his rope will be shorter than a snail. He can’t have any bad outings. To his credit, Cecil looks like he is in great shape and is throwing pain-free.
- Harrison Bader has a career in television when he’s done playing baseball. He hopes that second career doesn’t start for a long time. If he hits 205 again, he will have to start sending out sports anchor tapes sooner rather than later.
Actually, Bader has so much to offer: blinding speed, incredible glove and a good arm. However, saying a baseball player can do everything but hit is like saying a chef can do everything but cook. It’s not a minor issue. Bader told me today he has spent the off season working with a new hitting coach and together they changed his swing. He didn’t want to get specific with it. He just said watch the results.
- Finally, the attention surrounding Kwang Hyun Kim is stunning. Only Albert Pujols after the extension and Mark McGwire after he came back as a coach have ever drawn a bigger media crowd in Jupiter.
About 30 journalists from South Korea recorded every move ever so closely. If he jogged this way, the media went with him. If he stopped for a break, they stopped for a break. The Korean television stations interviewed minor league catchers who caught his bullpen. They talked to Cardinal pitchers who merely played catch with him. John Gant, who is normally as talkative as politician in trouble, turned into William F. Buckley. I mean all of these Korean sportscasters were coming to him for quotes. My question is their budget. How do 30 afford to be here? How long can they stay? It’s not cheap here in Jupiter. Photographer Tony Chambers and I are getting by on mac and cheese and Kit Kat bars.
So long from Jupiter for now