JUPITER, Fla. -- Inviting former players to serve as guest instructors has long been a feature of Cardinals Spring Training. Red Schoendienst, Lou Brock, Bob Gibson and Whitey Herzog are among those who have made regular spring trips to Jupiter for years.
This year, though, there's a new face in the bunch, as the organization finally convinced Hall-of-Fame closer Bruce Sutter to return to uniform as an extra coach. It is the first time Sutter, who finished his 12-year career in 1988, has been in uniform for Spring Training since he was a player.
"It took a lot of coaxing, but we got Bruce here," manager Mike Matheny said. "He was in here this morning sitting in the dark when I walked in at about 6 o'clock and we sat down and started talking shop. We love doing that. He was saying a couple things that he noticed. The guys will appreciate some of his viewpoints. He's got a great baseball mind."
Sutter joined the team on Thursday and spent part of the game conversing with current Cardinals closer Jason Motte in the dugout. The two have formed a friendship in recent years, and Motte was among those who reached out to Sutter during the offseason to encourage him to participate as a coach during Spring Training.
On Friday, Sutter, who saved 300 games during his career, observed Jake Westbrook as he threw a side session. He then followed Westbrook out to another field, where the two continued to talk pitching.
"If one thing that Bruce says helps out someone in here, his trip down here has been well worth it," Motte said. "He's kind of a low-key guy and said he didn't want to be in anyone's way. I said, 'I'm pretty sure you won't be in anyone's way if you come down here.' It's great to have a guy like that down here -- a guy who knows the game, who has played the game. He has a lot of knowledge that he can give to a bunch of people, me included."
Sutter, who declined a media request on Friday, is expected to remain in camp until the middle of next week. The Cardinals expect Herzog to arrive next weekend, Matheny said.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less