Cards postcard from Florida: Day 2

By David WilhelmMarch 10, 2014 

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny tells reporters Tuesday that top prospect Oscar Taveras has no chance to make team if he can't get on the field for games.

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It was a forgettable Monday for the Cardinals, whose pitchers struggled mightily in a 17-5 loss to Detroit. Manager Mike Matheny searched hard for a few positives despite the realization that his team has been outscored 28-6 in the last two games. Peter Bourjos might have been the brightest light. The center fielder had a couple of singles and made a nice running catch in right-center. This guy is an athlete, light on his feet and dangerous on the basepaths and in the field. Matheny said the key for Bourjos will be maintaining a compact swing with an emphasis on making consistent contact. If Bourjos can hit .270 to .280 and steal 35 to 40 bases, he will be an offensive game-changer. Defensively, he's already considered to be an elite center fielder --perhaps the best among active players.

The Cardinals trimmed their roster to 49 players after the game Monday. There were no surprises among the nine players optioned to Class AAA Memphis or reassigned to minor-league camp. Among the players optioned was 5-foot-9 outfielder Mike O'Neill, 26, who has perhaps the best batting eye in the system with 222 walks and a .435 on-base percentage in 341 career minor-league games. O'Neill has struck out just 99 times in 1,154 at-bats.

Photographer Zia Nizami and I were optimistic about a wonderful dining experience Monday night after Cardinals pitching coach Derek Lilliquist recommended Spoto's Oyster Bar, located less than a mile from our hotel in Palm Beach Gardens. We were even more encouraged by the large crowd in the restaurant, typically a sure sign of great food. However, we were disappointed as the food was average --once it finally arrived. After Zia and I shared an appetizer of pan-fried oysters, I settled on New Orleans crabcakes for my entree. So-so as crabcakes go, and the side dishes of mashed sweet potatoes, corn and broccoli weren't enough to save the day.

Weather-wise, it was a picture-perfect Monday, with abundant sunshine and a high temperature in the low-80s.

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