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While Oquendo fades away, St. Louis Cardinals bats make an appearance

Randal Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty discuss the 2016 season

The Cardinals kick off the MLB regular season with a three-game series in Pittsburgh, against the Pirates. The Opening-Day game is scheduled to start at 12:05 CT on Sunday, April 3.
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The Cardinals kick off the MLB regular season with a three-game series in Pittsburgh, against the Pirates. The Opening-Day game is scheduled to start at 12:05 CT on Sunday, April 3.

Hopes that St. Louis Cardinals coach Jose Oquendo would at least be able to do part of his job this season have been dashed.

The Redbirds third base coach and fielding guru announced through the team yesterday that he won’t be in the dugout to align the defense or offer other guidance to fielders as he tries to rehab a troublesome knee that will prevent him from getting out on the field.

It’s a shame because Oquendo has so much to offer and the St. Louis defense won’t be the same without him in the fold.

I find it to be odd that Oquendo would pass on the chance to coach from the bench. With as long as he has been with the Cardinals -- a player or coach on the club since 1985 -- it seems strange that he’d decline an opportunity to be with the club in any way he could.

After being passed over for several managerial jobs over the years, I wonder if Oquendo isn’t burned out on the game in addition to his physical ailment.

Hopefully, while he rehabs his knee he’ll get a much-needed mental break and get the itch to be back with the club sometimes later this season -- or at least in 2017.

While the Oquendo news was disappointing, the good news from Cardinals spring training in Jupiter is that the big boys are starting to swing the bats with authority.

On Monday, Matt Holliday erased concerns about the fact he hadn’t hit a home run since last July when he smacked a laser beam of a homer over the left field boards at Roger Dean Stadium.

The shot came off Mets veteran Bartolo Colon who didn’t bother to even turn his head to makes sure the ball couldn’t be caught. Colon simply raised his glove to signal the catcher that he needed another baseball before the previous one even landed.

It was good to see the no-doubt shot to quiet concerns that Holliday had lost his power. While Colon isn’t a fireballer anymore, he’s a veteran who has had a lot of success at the major league level. So it’s not as if the St. Louis left fielder homered off a kid who will be in Class AA in a week.

Randal Grichuk, who suffered a couple of strikeouts and grounded into a double play with chances to drive in runs the previous two games, came through Monday with a line drive laced down the left field line for an RBI double.

Matt Adams has shown more ability recently to use the whole field when he hits. In the last couple of days he’s doubled to left and smacked a solid line drive over the second baseman’s head. He also has shown a willingness to bunt against the shift which has largely caused teams to either abandon it or to at least tone it down a bit.

On Monday, the Mets didn’t employ the shift against him early in the game. But they did use it against fellow lefty Brandon Moss who has shown less willingness to take advantage of third base being left unoccupied.

Yadier Molina was a late scratch Monday with what the team described as a foot contusion. Apparently his healing thumb is alright and the Cardinals’ on-field leader remains on track to play on opening day.

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