i am excited to finally blog about actual baseball games after our winter-long layoff. on the other hand, it's dangerous to blog about spring training games with any kind of confidence. the conditions are fake and the sample sizes small. pitchers will be on the mound trying out their weaker pitches rather than doing their utmost to get batters out, and batters will be working on their swings as much as trying to hit. teams give inordinate amounts of playing time to non-roster players who will never see time in the big leagues. we will probably not get a lot of chances to play pitchers of ryan rowland-smith's caliber during the season.
actually, given the astros' dire straits, we may actually see ryan rowland-smith several times. but the larger point stands.
every year there's numerous examples of players who light up spring training and crash and burn in the regular season. i don't know of a site that tracks historical spring training stats, so i can't do any heavy analysis. two players who came roaring out of spring training with great ST performances for the cards in recent years were kip wells and khalil greene.
okay, having given that caveat, i am still going to engage in the fool's errand of looking at our first several games and trying to find early themes.
the injury to adam wainwright is still an enormous concern. what a frustrating blow before we even get out of the blocks. as dangerous as it is to rely on spring training, i can at least say that nothing has happened so far to make me feel worse about our sixth/seventh starter candidates, even though they've become fifth/sixth starter candidates. lance lynn has looked good. the other good rotation news is kyle lohse's fine start to the season. while it's hardly a guarantee of fine performance in the regular season, it's better to see him have a strong start than a weak one.
the other injuries so far this spring training i find only mildly concerning. i refuse to panic about carpenter's hamstring or boggs' back or even most of the moving pieces attached to lance berkman. spring training is a good time to be conservative about strains and tweaks and soreness. there's no reason not to give those injuries a little extra rest, especially for older, experienced players who need to practice staying healthy much more than they need to practice their baseball skills. berkman will be in today's lineup. in other walking wounded news,rick hummel reports that david freese will start tomorrow's game at third.
the best part of spring training for me so far has been watching the success of our youngest players. allen craig has gotten a lot of playing time, shown a lot of progress, and even seems to be taking steps to fix some holes in his swing. craig's only area of concern was defensive, missing a number of balls hit towards third base, although it's unclear whether the hits were unfieldable or that craig missed a valid defensive opportunity. i suspect that craig wil find plenty of playing time in the outfield, even if he is ultimately judged (again) not to be a good third base option.
adron chambers, matt carpenter, zack cox, jon jay, tyler greene, and mark hamilton have all had good starts to spring training. while no longer a prospect, colby rasmus has looked very sharp as well. on the mound, our young pitchers have done very well. shelby miller pitched two nice innings the other day, as did joe kelly. salas, sanchez, and reifer did well in their first relief assignments of the year. even samuel managed a decent inning, allowing a single walk.
anyway, today's game will start shortly. kyle mcclellan starts against a split-squad astros team. as stated above, berkman is in the lineup. the game is on kmox, and audio is online.