PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Disappointed with their collective showing last season, members of the Cardinals' starting rotation have been logging overtime in the batting cages this spring. The extra work comes a year after the workout schedule cut back on the amount of swings pitchers took.
The top priority has been bunting, something that has actually been a camp-wide initiative for the Cardinals this spring. More than just being able to lay down a sacrifice bunt, though, the pitchers want to become tougher outs.
"Guys were wanting a few more [swings] this year," Adam Wainwright said. "We've bunted our faces off every day. Our hands were sore for a little while, we were bunting so much. We ought to be good bunters. At the very least, your team needs you, at the plate, to be a good bunter. They deserve that from us."
The early returns are promising. With Wainwright's RBI single on Thursday, the team's pitchers are a combined 3-for-8 with two RBIs in Grapefruit League play. Last year, the Cardinals ranked in the middle of the National League pitching pack in batting average (.130) and sacrifice hits (35).
"I think all of the guys are going to be better offensively this year," manager Mike Matheny said. "I really believe that. I'm not talking homers. I'm just talking little execution. They've been very deliberate and they've put their time in. They want to be much better."
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.