Cards postcard from Florida: Day 3

News-DemocratMarch 11, 2014 

Greetings from Jupiter, Fla., home of sunny skies and warm temperatures. From the weather reports I've seen, folks back home aren't complaining, either, where it must have felt like summer Tuesday. But what is this I hear about snow in the forecast?

All Cardinals fans are eager to see what prized prospect Oscar Taveras can provide. But the wait for Taveras' big-league debut will continue indefinitely. Manager Mike Matheny said Tuesday that Taveras is playing at about 50-percent capacity as he tries to work through a tight right hamstring. Taveras is walking gingerly, so unless he is a quick healer, I don't expect to see him in any more Grapefruit League games. The Cardinals obviously are tepid about giving Taveras any more activity beyond the morning stretch, where Matheny can oversee his every movement. And when it gets right down to it, what's the rush to promote Taveras? He hardly played last year because of severe ankle problems that required surgery, and he would greatly benefit from a full season at Class AAA Memphis. Taveras needs that more than the Cardinals need him.

What a day for Kolten Wong. The rookie second baseman collected a pair of hits, including his first spring homer, and made a stellar defensive play in a 9-8 loss to the New York Mets. Long before the game, Wong showed off his gymnastics skills with two stand-still backflips that had teammates watching in wonderment. Wong is ready to be an impact player. He has matured over the offseason and talked Tuesday about how veteran Mark Ellis has provided valuable advice and on-field tutelage. That's a nice thing to hear, since it's the 36-year-old Ellis who figures to lose playing time to Wong if Wong performs like the Cardinals believe he is capable.

No seafood report Tuesday. The energy level was a bit low in the evening, so photographer Zia Nizami and I opted for pizza in the Embassy Suites Hotel lobby. It came from Brooklyn Crust Pizza, a place run by a pair of brothers from New York. Toppings were sausage, green peppers and black olive and the pizza rated a hearty thumbs-up.

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