Postcard from Cardinals camp for Monday, Feb. 25

Weather: 79 degrees, overcast

Result: Cardinals 3, Tigers 3 (tie, game called after 9th inning)

By Rob Rains 

JUPITER, Fla. – The best part of Mike Shildt’s day on Monday was over about 4 ½ hours before the Cardinals game against the Detroit Tigers began.

That came when Shildt watched from the outfield on field 1 of the Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium complex as Andrew Miller, Jordan Hicks and Alex Reyes threw live batting practice sessions against some of the non-roster catchers in camp.

After watching Reyes in particular, Shildt said he was “cackling” about the pitches he observed.

“Three pretty impressive live BPs,” Shildt said. “The guy who was really impressive was Alex Reyes. Aggressive, assertive, the curveball was dirty. The ball was coming out really clean on his heater, so a really positive day for each guy, and us.

“I was just cackling to myself in the outfield on some of the pitches that were being thrown, just dirty pitches – plus, elite pitches. I was just happy.”

Reyes was happy too.

“Everything went well, today was another step in a positive direction,” Reyes said. “I thought I threw a few good breaking balls, a few good changeups. I need to work on attacking the zone with my heater a little more but everything was coming out well. I couldn’t really ask for anything more today.”

This was the first time Reyes has faced hitters who were swinging at his pitches. During his first live BP the hitters were told just to stand in the batter’s box.

“The competitiveness in you comes out, you want to get outs no matter who is hitting,” Reyes said. “Getting to see I can still freeze hitters is a positive thing.”

One of the hitters was Brian O’Keefe, who also has caught some of Reyes’ bullpen sessions this spring.

“He’s got good feel for all of his pitches,” O’Keefe said. “After all that’s happened the last year and a half, two years; that can be tough for a guy. It looks like his pitches have some life to the end of them; really looks good.

“I feel like everywhere now guys throw hard, bullpen guys or starters, that’s just the way the game is going. But certainly, with Alex’s stuff, there’s a little extra giddy to it. He was impressive.”

What’s next for Reyes?

“Evaluation, then we move forward,” Shildt said.

Reyes is eagerly awaiting the news that he has been scheduled to pitch in a spring training camp inside the main stadium. That has not happened the last three years after he had to sit out the 2016 spring because of a minor league suspension, and then because of injury the last two springs.

“I’m dying to pitch in a spring training game,” he said. “It’s been a few years.”

Here is how the game against the Tigers broke down:

High: The Cardinals rallied from a 3-1 deficit to tie the game in the ninth inning, with Yairo Munoz delivering a bases loaded sacrifice fly with one out and Tommy Edman drove in the tying run with a single.

Low: Paul DeJong and Marcell Ozuna each were 0-of-2, leaving both still looking for their first hit of the spring.

At the plate: The Cardinals were held to just four singles before the ninth inning rally, which started with a walk and a hit by pitch … Jose Martinez reached base in both of his at-bats with a hit and a walk … The Cardinals’ other run scored in the seventh on an RBI single by Rangel Ravelo … Harrison Bader got the start in the leadoff spot and struck out in both of his at-bats.

On the mound: Prospect Jake Woodford got the start and allowed two runs in his second inning of work … Another prospect, Evan Kruczynski, pitched two scoreless innings, striking out two … Connor Jones and Mike Mayers each worked a perfect inning of relief.

Off the field: Shildt said Yadier Molina is scheduled to catch for the first time this spring on March 14, and likely will be used as a designated hitter in games before that date … Ozuna is expected to play in the field for the first time around that same day, about 10 days before the end of ther spring, but a firm date has not been scheduled … Pitcher Andrew Morales was scheduled to undergo an MRI on his right shoulder on Monday after having to come out of Sunday’s game. Shildt said it appears the non-roster right-hander will be out for “some time” but will know more once the team gets the test results … Dakota Hudson will make his first start of the spring on Wednesday with Austin Gomber set to make his first appearance the same day.

Up next: Adam Wainwright is scheduled to start Tuesday’s game against the Nationals in West Palm Brach although the weather forecast calls for a good chance for rain.

Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains

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