Pete Kozma went from being the Cardinals’ starting shortstop to an afterthought once the clock struck midnight and turned him back into light-hitting pumpkin, and now he might be learning to catch.
Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that Cardinals manager Mike Matheny has told Kozma and fellow utility infielder candidate Greg Garcia “to strap on catching equipment, whether it be in batting practice, or even a game.”
For now Matheny is simply trying to find an emergency catcher option behind starter Yadier Molina and backup Tony Cruz. Daniel Descalso had been the emergency catcher, but now he’s with the Rockies.
Hummel notes that Kozma is also likely to see some time in the outfield this spring, as he basically tries to do anything possible to look more appealing to the Cardinals as a potential bench player.
Tony Cruz will remain in his role as the Cardinals’ backup catcher next season, avoiding arbitration by agreeing to a one-year contract.
Cruz has been Yadier Molina’s primary understudy since 2012, hitting just .225 with three homers and a .580 OPS in 482 plate appearances during that time.
Obviously the Cardinals value his defense a lot and, if healthy, they want Molina playing almost every game anyway.
A.J. Pierzynski told the media after the Cardinals’ loss to the Giants in Game 5 of the NLCS that he intends to play baseball again in 2015, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. With Yadier Molina starting and Tony Cruz backing up, Pierzynski’s future doesn’t lie with the Cardinals.
More, via Goold:
“I want to play, obviously,” said Pierzynski, who came to the Cardinals after being released by Boston in July. He will be a free agent next month. “Physically I feel good. I still think I can contribute. I don’t know what will be out there, but I want to play.”
The catcher, who turns 38 at the end of December, put up a .251/.288/.337 slash line with five home runs and 37 RBI in 362 plate appearances during the regular season with the Red Sox and Cardinals. It was easily the worst season of his 17-year career. However, he was productive at the plate with the Rangers in 2013, so it’s tough to make any concrete judgments about his ability to play going forward.
Game 5 of the NLCS has already been a wild, seesaw affair.
After the Cardinals grabbed an early 1-0 lead in the top of the third inning, the Giants answered right back in the bottom of the frame when rookie second baseman Joe Panik took Adam Wainwright deep for a two-run homer just inside the right-field foul pole. According to Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com, the Giants had gone 242 plate appearances between home runs this postseason. The last one came during the NLDS when Brandon Belt homered in the 18th inning against the Nationals on October 4.
However, the Giants’ lead didn’t last long, as Matt Adams led off the top of the fourth inning with a game-tying homer against Madison Bumgarner. I thought Adams couldn’t hit lefties? He now has homers off Clayton Kershaw and Bumgarner over the past nine days. Anyway, the Cardinals weren’t done there. Bumgarner retired the next two batters he faced before Yadier Molina’s replacement, Tony Cruz, pulled a solo homer to put St. Louis back in front at 3-2.
Wainwright quickly found himself in a jam in the bottom of the fourth after Pablo Sandoval doubled inside the left field line and Hunter Pence drew a walk. The Giants failed to capitalize on the opportunity, as Brandon Belt lined into a tough-luck double play and Brandon Crawford struck out to end the frame and strand runners at first and second. With their backs against the wall, the Cardinals are clinging to a one-run lead as we move into the top of the fifth in San Francisco.
The Cardinals are one loss away from elimination, but they have grabbed an early lead in Game 5 of the NLCS against the Giants.
After tossing two scoreless innings, Madison Bumgarner issued a leadoff walk to Tony Cruz to begin the top of the third. Adam Wainwright bunted Cruz over to second base before Bumgarner walked Matt Carpenter. Jon Jay then hit a fly ball to left field which was misread by Travis Ishikawa for a double (that scoring is generous) and brought in the first run of the ballgame. Yes, Ishikawa’s inexperience in left field finally came back to bite the Giants. Bumgarner got Matt Holliday and Jhonny Peralta to fly out to avoid any further damage, but the Cardinals hold a 1-0 lead going into the bottom of the third in San Francisco.
For what it’s worth, Adam Wainwright has looked sharper so far tonight than in his previous two outings this postseason. He has thrown 27 pitches over two scoreless frames.