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Spring Training Tidbits: Marcell Ozuna, Bud Norris, & Miles Mikolas make Cardinals debuts; Daniel Poncedeleon returns

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Notes surrounding the first three spring exhibition games

MLB: Spring Training-Houston Astros at St. Louis Cardinals
Ozuna doubled in Sunday’s game.
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Spring Training is in full swing, with all 30 Major League Baseball teams kicking off their exhibitions seasons over the weekend. The Cardinals have played three games to date.

Right-hander Jack Flaherty started the opener on Friday and dazed the Marlins over two scoreless innings in Jupiter. He struck out two batters, issuing zero walks and as many hits.

Examining Jack Flaherty’s Case for a Roster Spot

St. Louis ace Carlos Martinez took to the mound on Saturday in Port St. Lucie. Martinez scuffled in his first spring tune-up, walking three Mets and hitting one in 1 13 frames. He limited the damage to one run.

Following Martinez on Saturday was Ryan Helsley. The 23-year-old Helsley, rated as the 23rd prospect in the system, pitched through the third inning and earned his first spring win.

MLB Pipeline: Top 30 Cardinals prospects

Recent signee Bud Norris followed Helsley in Saturday’s contest. Norris pitched two innings and allowed two runs, including one on a solo homer.

Outfielders Randy Arozarena and Jose Adolis Garcia went yard against the Mets for their first home runs this spring.

Miles Mikolas, a right-hander projected to make the Cardinals’ starting rotation, made his debut with the team on Sunday against the Astros. Mikolas recorded five outs and was roughed up for six earned runs - including three that scored on a mammoth home run by Kyle Tucker. After Mikolas, Mike Mayers followed out of the bullpen with 2 13 innings of scoreless ball. His four strike outs now lead the pitching staff thus far.

And after Mikolas and Mayers got their work in, Daniel Poncedeleon returned to the mound to pitch in a game for the first time since early May of last year. Poncedeleon’s 2017 season was cut short when he was struck with a line drive in his head, resulting in an injury that required emergency brain surgery. Poncedeleon logged two innings on Sunday afternoon with two punchouts and one run allowed.

Former closer and 2011 World Series champion Jason Motte pitched a scoreless eighth inning in his return to the Cardinals. He joined the club on minor-league deal, as did Preston Guilmet. Guilmet held Houston off the board in the ninth.

On the offensive side of Sunday’s game, Tommy Pham and Yadier Molina struck back-to-back home runs in the fourth inning to get the Cardinals on the board. Marcell Ozuna collected his first extra-base hit (a double), while Luke Voit notched his second two-bagger.

Speaking of Voit, the primary first baseman has been working out in left field this spring - a practice he picked up in the Minors last year. Although the projected outfield of Ozuna, Pham, and Dexter Fowler doesn’t give much leeway, the ability for Voit to fill-in in the outfield - in addition to play first base and hit for power (his most prominent trait) - pads his case for a roster spot.

On Monday, the Cardinals will send Michael Wacha to the mound in Fort Myers to face the Twins. Wacha started 30 games for St. Louis last season and maintained a 3.63 FIP. You may follow this game on MLB.com.

2018 Cardinals Spring Training Guide

The videos are credited to the St. Louis Cardinals.