JUPITER, Fla.—The wait is over. Well, sort of. Aledmys Diaz will make his spring training big league debut this afternoon when the Cardinals host the Nationals at Roger Dean Stadium. The Cuban infielder is expected to begin the season at AA-Springfield but the coaching staff had said previously it wanted to see what it had in Diaz before they left camp.
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Diaz signed a 4 year, $8 million contract with the Cardinals more than a week ago but couldn’t participate in Grapefruit League games because he had yet to receive a work visa. Without one, he had been ineligible to participate in anything that earned him a wage.
The infielder returned to Mexico, where he had established residency after defecting from Cuba, to receive the visa earlier this week. Mike Matheny said as soon as he got back with it Diaz would play.
Turns out, he’s in the starting lineup:
1) Shane Robinson - CF
2) Yadier Molina - C
3) Matt Holliday - LF
4) Allen Craig - RF
5) Matt Adams - 1B
6) Kolten Wong - 2B
7) Pete Kozma - 3B
8) Aledmys Diaz - SS
9) Adam Wainwright - P
Also scheduled to pitch after Wainwright: Randy Choate, Sam Freeman, Pat Neshek, Trevor Rosenthal, Seth Maness, Keith Butler
We’re going to learn awfully quickly how far away Aledmys Diaz is to the Major Leagues. When he was going through workouts a few weeks ago he was marketing himself as nearly ready for a big league job.
But teams such as the Yankees reportedly passed on offering him a contract altogether, which showed how far away they thought he was. The Cardinals were very candid with Diaz and his agent from the beginning by telling them they thought very highly of him for the future but wouldn’t commit to him in St. Louis right now.
He would need to prove himself, and recoup lost at-bats from taking a year off, in the minors. We’re going to see soon how comfortable he is facing advanced pitching.
Could Diaz be someone who is ready for a big league promotion later in this season? Will he need a full year of seasoning before earning that promotion in 2015? The Cardinals want to know that answer sooner rather than later.