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Cardinals players make spring training report date irrelevant

As much as I anticipate the report date of pitchers and catchers every year, the first sign that Major League Baseball will soon be back underway, I appreciate it even more that the majority of the St. Louis Cardinals roster is working to make the date irrelevant.

According to multiple reports, more than 20 Redbirds players -- pitchers, catchers and position players, too -- were in camp several days before their mandatory report date.

It's nice that they seem as eager to play ball as we are to see them play ball.

While it's not a requirement that teammates like each other in order for a club to win a championship, it certainly doesn't hurt anything that the Cardinals players genuinely seem to be interested in the big picture as much or more as they are interested in their own fortunes.

It's a springtime certainty that some players will show up at camp out of shape and at the last possible minute. But, instead of those headaches, it's nice to see that Cardinals most valuable player Yadier Molina, firmly entrenched on the roster at age 32, showed up for camp 20 pounds lighter than we last saw him in the National League playoffs.

Meanwhile, young hurler Carlos Martinez, who has been something of a flaky character his first three seasons in pro ball, was also in early to show management that he's serious about taking the next step in his career.

Even Jason Heyward, picked up early in the off-season in trade, eagerly showed up a week before he had to to start work on his swing and his fielding.

It would be nice if Heyward puts together an impressive spring to inspire the Cardinals to sign him before the season starts and eliminate what promises to be a year-long distraction over whether the team will be able to keep a potential superstar player.

But, either way, it's great to see that it's time to transition from speculating about baseball to seeing games played on the field.

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