St. Louis Cardinals

Postcard from Florida: Jay a favorite of Matheny’s; bonding with “Hawk” and “Doggie”

Camp Cardinals was bustling again Thursday morning after a light Wednesday when only two major-leaguers were in attendance: pitcher Lance Lynn and center fielder Jon Jay.

Manager Mike Matheny, in his morning meeting with reporters, said Lynn will make his second spring start Monday against Boston in Fort Myers. Lynn showed no lingering effects of his left hip-flexor strain during a simulated game Wednesday. Jay, meanwhile, will make his spring debut Friday against the New York Mets in Port St. Lucie. He is recovering from offseason surgery on his left wrist.

Matheny is an adamant defender of Jay, whom he believes was short-changed after the 2013 season when almost everyone believed his defense prowess had slipped. Matheny wasn’t one of the doubters, and Jay rebounded with a terrific 2014 season in which he erased any concerns about his range in center field. Jay will not yield playing time to Peter Bourjos this season. Bourjos is in the Thursday lineup against the Mets and is need of something positive to happen, and soon. His spot on the team is tenuous with two-plus weeks left in camp.

You never know who you might see in spring training, especially at the hotel. After leaving Roger Dean Stadium earlier than usual Wednesday, who approached the elevator entrance seconds after photographer Derik Holtmann and I? None other than Hall of Famers Tony Perez and Andre Dawson. Both work for the Miami Marlins, who had just defeated Washington.

Dawson, nicknamed “The Hawk,” on April 22, 1987, broke out of an 8-for-41 skid to start the season with a seventh-inning grand slam that lifted the Chicago Cubs to a 5-4 victory over the Cardinals. “It was off Todd Worrell,” Dawson said, remembering the future closer who was in a setup role in 1987. Dawson went on to win the National League MVP, even though the Cubs finished in last place.

Perez, of course, was part of the Big Red Machine of the 1970s and was one of the most prolific clutch hitters in baseball. “Doggie” and Dawson both still look like they could play.

Dinner on Wednesday night was provided by The Twisted Tuna, located in a nice setting along the intercoastal waterway in Stuart, about 20 minutes north of Roger Dean Stadium. The Tuna Tutaki Sandwich, served with twisted fries and cole slaw, was wonderful. The tuna was marinated in a sweet sesame soy sauce that wowed the mouth with flavor.

David Wilhelm

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