KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Joe Kelly enjoyed the friendlier environment while warming up in the bullpen Friday for his first spring training start against the Astros.
After all, the last time Kelly warmed up on the road he was rudely greeted by the fans in San Francisco during the NLCS.
“It was a little different,” Kelly said. “There’s not people calling you mean names out there. Warming up today in the bullpen we actually had Cardinals fans down there cheering you on instead of people using derogatory terms and screaming out hate and blasphemy for you. “
Asked if he could relay what was said by the San Francisco fans last fall, Kelly joked, “Nothing for a family audience. Those guys are mean out there sometimes.”
Kelly was one of the final Cardinals pitchers to appear in a game this spring, making his Grapefruit League debut in the seventh game. Only Shelby Miller hasn’t appeared and that was due to an injury and he will pitch Saturday.
The right-hander tossed two scoreless and hitless innings against the Astros Friday. He walked two batters but stranded them both times.
“I kind of forgot when the last time was I threw,” Kelly said. “For the past three days I was getting reminded by everyone in the clubhouse like, ‘Dude are you ever going to play, are you ever going to pitch or what?’ I think it made me even more anxious to get out there because I was one of the last guys to even throw.
“It was good to get out there. I felt good. My arm feels great and my body feels great. I was not too happy about my walks and stuff and felt maybe a tad bit rusty but I went out there and got my ground balls and that’s my game and that’s what I tried to do and I got them when I needed to.”
Kelly is competing with Miller and Trevor Rosenthal for the fifth spot in the Cardinals rotation.