Mabry happy to be coaching gifted St. Louis hitters

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Despite the change in title, John Mabry insists that it has been just business as usual for him this spring.

After serving as an assistant coach for one season, Mabry became the Cardinals' head hitting coach upon Mark McGwire's departure during the offseason. McGwire is now the Dodgers' hitting coach. The transition, Mabry said, has been made easier by the fact that McGwire incorporated him into all the work he did last year.

Mabry also opted not to make too many alterations to the spring plan that McGwire had previously instituted.

"We're not reinventing any wheels," Mabry said. "These guys are good hitters. They know what they're doing. We have a lot of veteran guys who understand the game. We have some guys who are right on the verge of taking the next step to become among the elites in the game. Hopefully, they continue on that path."

And who would Mabry consider to be on that list?

"The whole core of young guys," he answered. "[David] Freese, [Jon] Jay, [Daniel] Descalso, [Allen] Craig. Those guys are ready to go to the next level. You have Matt [Holliday] and Carlos [Beltran] and Yadi [Molina] who are already superstars, and you have the next level coming who are going to be. What a great example they have to see in the guys ahead of them."

Mabry was fortunate in the players he inherited, of course, as McGwire left him with almost all the pieces from an offense that was near the top of the National League in most statistical categories last year.