Mailbag: What's up for Opening Day?

Mailbag: What's up for Opening Day?

We're down to the final one-third of Spring Training, with Opening Day very much in sight.

As always, if you have a question, use the link below to submit it -- and please be sure to include your first name, last initial and hometown. If you send a regular e-mail, rather than using the form, be certain to use the word "mailbag" in the subject header -- otherwise your mail may be directed to the spam folder, or otherwise ignored in an unbecoming manner.

I see Opening Day is an evening game on ESPN2. Will traditional Opening Day ceremonies be observed that day?
-- Kevin S., West Salem, Ill.

Yep, the opener at Busch Stadium will look like most openers at Busch Stadium. They'll have all the usual pregame festivities, including the motorcade, and they'll raise the championship banner. Rings will be handed out on Tuesday, April 3, before the second game of the season.

Since Spring Training is winding down, could you please explain the following terms regarding what happens to the guys that don't make the Major League team: reassigned, optioned and outrighted?
-- David R., North Little Rock, Ark.

A player who was not on the Major League roster but was in Major League camp is reassigned to Minor League camp when he is sent out. A player who is on the 40-man Major League roster but will not make the 25-man active roster is optioned to the Minors -- assuming he has not been optioned in three previous seasons.

Players are rarely outrighted in Spring Training. That is the transaction that occurs when a player is sent to the Minors and removed from the 40-man Major League roster.

Why is there not more talk of John Rodriguez getting more time or possibly starting? He has done nothing but hit his entire time with the Cards. Why does it seem that he is not getting a fair shake?
-- Josh H., Jefferson City, Mo.

Rodriguez has done nothing but hit since he's been with the Cardinals, it's true. But before this year, there was some dissatisfaction with his defense and baserunning. Rodriguez has re-dedicated himself recently to getting in shape and rounding out his game. He's slimmed down, he's quicker and faster, and he's playing better defense. His chances of making the club have definitely improved as a result.

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I just saw Jason Simontacchi was in Nationals camp. Where has he been and is he making a comeback?
-- Micah R., Evansville, Ind.

Simontacchi has dealt with quite a bit of arm trouble since he was last seen with the Cardinals. He began the comeback trail last year with a brief stint with the Bridgeport Bluefish of the independent Atlantic League, then made a start in the Dominican Winter League. He's with Washington now, and the reports from Viera, Fla., indicate that he has a very good chance of making the Nationals' starting rotation.

Do you think Rick Ankiel, after all he's been through, has a snowball's chance of making the Opening Day roster? If anybody deserves a chance of making the team, he certainly does.
-- Myron B., Clovis, N.M.

No, I do not think so. No matter how well Ankiel hits, unless he looks like he is ready to get 400-plus at-bats, he will not be on the roster at the start of the season. That's because he needs to play regularly. So the Cards will send him to Memphis to play every day, in hopes that he'll be ready for a callup next year or possibly at the end of '07.

He's currently on a Minor League contract, so he can simply be reassigned -- see above -- without having to pass him through waivers to go to the Minors. Once Ankiel is added to the roster, then he'd have to clear waivers in order to be sent back down again.

In Mexico, people don't pay a lot of attention to Minor League baseball, but I would like to know how many Mexicans the Cardinals have in their farm system. Are there any that we should watch for? I would like to think that there is another Mexican with Major League potential that I may not know.
-- Ernesto S., McAllen, Texas

The Cardinals do have a player with Mexican connections who appears to have a good chance of making the Major Leagues someday. Left-hander Jaime Garcia, who pitched at Class A Quad Cities and Class A Palm Beach last year, is one of the most promising pitchers in the system.

Garcia grew up in Mexico, though he attended high school in Texas. He has emerged as arguably the top pitching prospect in the Cardinals organization. There's a good chance he will start at Double-A Springfield this year, but he's considered rather polished and could move quickly. Actually, he already has moved quickly -- for a player in his first year of pro ball, making the Florida State League is rapid advancement.

Matthew Leach is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.