Arenado gets standing ovation in Cards debut
Day One of Spring Training had plenty to cheer about, the Cardinals debut of Nolan Arenado; Marlins prospects Jazz Chisholm and JJ Bleday each homer
By Joe Frisaro @ManOn2nd
JUPITER, Fla. — The socially-distanced crowd at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium on Sunday gave St. Louis Cardinals All-Star third baseman Nolan Arenado a standing ovation in his first Spring Training at-bat.
The 29-year-old, making his debut with the organization, was hoping to deliver something in return to the crowd. Even though he didn’t produce a more desired result at the plate, Arenado is embracing his new home with the Cardinals.
Acquired from the Rockies in one of the biggest Hot Stove season trades, Arenado went hitless in two at-bats, including a striking out a check-swing against Erick Fedde with runners on second and third in the first inning.
The missed chance to drive at least one run in the first Grapefruit League game was hardly disappointing in the big picture.
Arenado, a five-time All-Star and eight-time Gold Glove Award winner, is one of MLB superstars, and Cardinals fans had their first time to see him at third, and in the cleanup spot.
“Yeah, there is jitters, a little bit,” Arenado said via Zoom. “A little more nerves here and there, but you want to go into these games, and you want to be ready to go. But it’s Spring Training, and a lot of us aren’t ready to go. My timing is not there yet. I’m still learning these pitchers, and obviously, I still have to get my timing down.
“That’s going It’s going take some time. When you get a ‘Standing O,’ you want to do something for them, and stuff like that. But I missed some pitches. Obviously, my timing is a little off, and that’s why we’re here. But it was a lot of fun. It was good to be back out there. That’s what Spring Training is for, to get back into game mode, so when the season starts, you’re ready to go.”
A crowd of 1,204 attended Sunday’s Grapefruit League opener at Jupiter, which finished in a 4-4 tie between the Cardinals and Washington Nationals.
Cardinals right-hander Jack Flaherty had a rocky first outing, being charged with three runs in one-plus innings on four hits with three walks and a strikeout. Of his 39 pitches, 17 were strikes.
Flaherty never got into a rhythm. His fastball velocity was fine, in the 94 mph range. Once his pitch count nearly reached 40, he was lifted.
Jazz homers for Marlins: The Marlins came out swinging on Sunday in their opener at the Astros at West Palm Beach.
Infield prospect Jazz Chisholm got things rolling with a leadoff homer off Brandon Bielak. Lewis Brinson added a two-run homer in a four-run first.
The Marlins went on to 6-1 in a game slated for seven innings.
Chisholm played shortstop. The 23-year-old is Miami’s No. 4 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. The left-handed hitting infielder also is a candidate to being the regular second baseman. The Marlins will give him looks at more second base and shortstop.
Listed at 5-foot-11, 184 pounds, Chisholm has elite bat-speed, and plenty of power. He has the ability to do damage, when he makes contact. The home run was to the opposite field. As spring progresses, the organization will pay close attention to the overall quality of his at-bats, and if he is showing signs of being a more consistently balanced batter.
Bleday’s big day: JJ Bleday was the designated hitter on Sunday, and made a strong impressing with a home run. The club’s No. 2 prospect, Bleday is rated 24th on Pipeline’s Top 100 list.
The have plenty of outfield prospect depth. On their currently Top 30 list, eight of the first 18 players are outfielders. Of the group, Bleday remains the one with the most upside, according to many scouts Man On Second Baseball has talked to.
It’s not out of the possibility that Bleday could make his MLB debut later this season.
UM freshman impresses: On the college front, University of Miami freshman right-hander Alejandro Rosario was dominant on Saturday in a 3-0 win over Virginia Tech.
Rosario struck out seven and scattered three hits in seven shutout innings. A hard-thrower, he was more in control of his emotions after his college debut last weekend, when he allowed five runs (two earned) in four innings at the Florida Gators.
Understandably, Rosario was amped up to face a powerhouse Gators’ squad on the road, and tended to overthrow.
“This start I was probably more of myself,” Rosario said. “My first start, I was trying to do too much. After my first inning, I got into a groove. And here, I just carried that from the second inning into this start.”