Jupiter, FL (BaseballStL) - The Cardinals had to endure a little bit of weather today in their first full squad workout that featured every single player on the roster as the team kicks off towards the 2013 season.
Mike Matheny says he changed up his season opening speech just a little bit compared to last year because if you say the same thing time and time again he believes you’ll lose your audience. He said he didn’t see any sleepers out in the clubhouse while he was talking.
I got a chance to catch up with a few of the Cards high profile players and got some insight into what they’re thinking going into this year. First, I talked with OF Carlos Beltran, who’s entering the final year of his contract.
Beltran told me he’s got a little longer to play in his career than most people think. He says right now he feels good coming into the year and is excited for what 2013 will bring. One thing I was most fascinated to talk to him about was the emergence of elite prospect Oscar Taveras. Beltran says he’s heard a lot about him and can’t wait to see what he’s got. Beltran says it’s very important to help out the next young players in baseball because if you’re only thinking about yourself in this game then you’re not doing anything.
He says when he was a kid in the Royals organization he looked up and was mentored by Luis Alicea. Beltran says he enjoys playing the mentor nowadays and hopes that in another ten or fifteen years he can look at Taveras as the next great player in baseball who’s helping out another young kid working his way up the system.
Beltran just might be getting a little more rest this year than in years past because when you look at his splits from 2012, he was considerably better in the first half of the season (.296 avg) than in the second half (.236). That was a combination, according to Mike Matheny, of injuries and fatigue. He’s not young anymore, Beltran will be 36 in April, and he doesn’t have the greatest knees in the world.
This also might be the last chance for Beltran to get a World Series ring. He’ll be a free agent after the year and who knows what’s going to happen after that. It’d be a challenge for him to return to St. Louis, you’d think, because Oscar Taveras should be ready to assume the everyday role in the outfield in 2014. And even if Beltran were willing to accept reduced playing time to return to St. Louis, he’d also have to do so at a very reduced price. Yes, we’re a long way away from having to deal with this but it’s worth noting that Beltran has never won a championship and time is running out before his playing days are done. He doesn’t have many opportunities left.