Pitchers throw a bullpen session at St. Louis Cardinals spring training

(KMOX, Sam Masterson)

Mozeliak Talks Top Storylines As Cardinals Spring Training Games Begin

February 22, 2018 - 10:03 am

JUPITER, Fla. (KMOX) - Friday, we will get the first taste of 2018 St. Louis Cardinals baseball, when St. Louis faces the Miami Marlins at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium. But first, we sat down with president of baseball operations John Mozeliak to go over the most notable storylines of the past two weeks.

“I feel like the energy level is exactly what someone like me would like to see," Mozeliak says.  "So, from a staff standpoint, from player stand point, I feel really good about where we are.”

First off, will the Cardinals try a closer by committee?

“I hope someone takes the job, now who closes in April might look something different in July, but my point is i always think it’s a little tough when you use that work committee. Because bullpen pitchers tend to want to understand their role and I think when you get a little bit of ambiguity or vagueness, that’s where sometimes trouble begins.”

The hall of fame coaches are back in Jupiter, some in new roles and others returning to give the Cardinals immeasurable help.

“You look at getting someone like Jose Oquendo back as part of this major-league staff, that’s important, he’s going to have a positive impact on this team. You look at somebody like Willie McGee, who we’ve been blessed with having in our minor leagues the last few years. And candidly, when you sit in my seat, you sometimes want to keep those guys there because they are really making an impact on your future. But he was ready to come to the big leagues so we welcomed that.”

Major League Baseball announced pace of play changes, this week. Limiting all teams to six mound visits per game and mandating shorter commercial breaks. So Mo, how will these changes affect the game?

“When you watch a game, and I’ve tried to watch a few over the last week, just to say like, ‘O.K. that’s a visit.’ Right, when your second baseman goes out to pick up the rosin bag that might constitute a visit, especially if they have words. And so the nuances of this are something we are just going to have to work through.

“If everybody picks it up just a little bit, then it might be over in terms of changes. But if it ends ups being like, remember when we had the sort of 20 seconds in between pitches and the first-half of the season the game was snappier, and then second-half of the season it didn’t. So I think for us it’s going to be, where do we find that balance? And again if everyone is sort of pulling in the same direction, then hopefully this ends that discussion. But you’ve got to see some impact.”

One of the final pieces St. Louis is looking for is a left-handed bat off the bench. We asked Mozeliak who he hope could fill that role?

“There’s one player in particular that I’m hoping has a nice camp and opens up a few eyes here, and that’s (Breyvic) Valera. To me, he gives us a lot of flexibility in the infield, in the outfield, he can swing on both sides – that, I feel like would be very welcoming. Now he needs to have a good camp, he really does. Because a lot of people here have their own impressions of him and how they think of him and he’s got to open some eyes.”