A few days ago Blake Newberry went over a few Spring Training storylines in his post aptly titled Early Cardinals Camp Storylines. One of the storylines was about Cardinals leftfielder Tyler O’Neill and his offseason workout routine. According to John Denton of MLB.com, O’Neill has spent more time conditioning to prepare for the season — and to compete for centerfield.
“My body feels really good, I’m mobile and I’ve got some conditioning under me — more than in previous years — and I got back into heavy lifting this year,” he said. “My body just feels like it’s in a good position.”
TON setting the bar for "best shape of his life" tweets.#SpringTraining pic.twitter.com/7bhXqL9DmD— MLB (@MLB) February 17, 2023
As a few of us discussed on the latest podcast episode, the Cardinals have several options for the corner outfield spots, but after the trade of Harrison Bader last season, the centerfield options are not nearly as plentiful. In the past, O’Neill has shown he has been capable of playing centerfield — he makes quick reads on flyballs and has surprising speed for a player of his size. Per Darragh McDonald of MLBTradeRumors:
“I’d love to play center field,” O’Neill said. “I’m not trying to boot anybody away from that position either, but it’s whatever they deem fit. I know they’re very analytically-driven here. I just want to be the best player that I can be. I’ve worked really hard this offseason at increasing my first-step quickness and making sure my legs can be under me. I believe I can definitely play that position if that’s where they want me.”
If he can stay healthy — which for O’Neill might be a big if — the Cardinals might have a lot more flexibility moving their outfielders around, which would be a very good thing to get at bats for their corner outfielders.
Tyler O’Neill is competing to be the #stlcards starting center fielder, Marmol says today.— Derrick Goold (@dgoold) February 21, 2023
More on that from yesterday’s coverage within this @stltoday roundup: https://t.co/2x2TjAcI0e
A quicker O’Neill chasing center field job | MLB.com
Tyler O’Neill Targeting Cardinals’ Center Field Job | MLBTradeRumors
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#STLCards RHP Tink Hence — @MLBPipeline ‘s sixth-ranked prospect in the STL system — is about to face hitters in his first live BP of Spring Training. pic.twitter.com/f4FG94SP2I— John Denton (@JohnDenton555) February 21, 2023
MoCap PR for Lars Nootbaar this last week. Hitting this ball 109.2mph, up from 103.5 last offseason! @DrivelineBB @Joney93— Andrew Aydt (@AndrewAydt) January 2, 2023
Average Bat Speed during this session was 76.6mph pic.twitter.com/jtIVSxL0OC
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