JUPITER, Fla. — Manager Mike Shildt was talking again on Tuesday morning about how the Cardinals likely had unrealistic expectations for Alex Reyes last spring as he tried to come back after missing almost two entire seasons because of injuries.
Because of that experience, the team has emphasized this spring that as much as they hope and want Reyes to succeed, they are taking a much more wait-and-see approach about what he is ready to contribute now following basically another lost season.
If his first performance of the spring on Tuesday was any indication, there is still a lot of work for Reyes before that will happen.
Reyes was not able to complete an inning in what was supposed to be a two-inning appearance as he struggled with his command, walking two batters and allowing two hits. He retired only one of five hitters he faced.
Reyes was charged with two runs, throwing 24 pitches, only half of which were strikes.
“Fastball command was not there,” Shildt said.
Still, the Cardinals were encouraged that Reyes hit 95 mph on the radar gun and displayed a “filthy” changeup.
Result: Nationals 9, Cardinals 6
Here is how Tuesday’s game broke down:
High: Paul DeJong drove in four of the Cardinals runs with a sacrifice fly and a three-run homer, his first of the spring.
Low: Six of the eight Cardinals pitchers allowed at least one run and two hits.
At the plate: Yairo Munoz drove in the other two runs with a two-run homer, his first of the spring … Kolten Wong led off the first with a double and later scored on DeJong’s sacrifice fly … Rangel Ravelo had two more hits, raising his early spring average to .800 … Dylan Carlson got the start in right field and went 0-of-4 … Harrison Bader was hitless in three at-bats, striking out twice … The Cardinals were just 2-of-10 with runners in scoring position.
On the mound: Starter Austin Gomber allowed one run in two innings … In addition to Reyes, Brett Cecil also had a tough outing in his second spring appearance. He allowed two runs on two hits and a pair of walks in his one inning of work … The Cardinals threw three wild pitches in the game.
Off the field: The only Cardinals pitcher who is healthy who likely won’t pitch in the first week of spring games is Andrew Miller. He is being brought along on a slower pace, Shildt said, simply because of his years of major-league experience … Tyler O’Neill, who has not started since the opening game, is expected to be back in the lineup on Wednesday.
Up next: The Cardinals will split their squad for two games on Wednesday, against the Marlins in Jupiter and the Astros in West Palm Beach. Kwang Hyun Kim will get the start in the home game, scheduled to throw two innings, with Genesis Cabrera getting the start in the road game.
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