Final Countdown

Hello again
Redbird fans. With opening day roughly a week away, the finishing touches are
being put on 2011 spring training. I hope you are all ready for an exciting
year of baseball.


Last week was an interesting week in terms of scheduling. I spent a lot of time
riding the bus as we had 4 road trips that were two hours or more. Being a
young player means that if there is a roadtrip that day you are going to be in
it. I’m not complaining but the bus does get old. I was in Viera (Nationals),
Kissimmee (Astros), and Fort Myers (Red Sox) on 3 consecutive days.


After those three trips, we had our one and only off day of the Spring. Having
that day off allows us to rest and recharge for the last week of camp. I got to
sleep in a little (could barely make it to 8 am since I’m so used to being up
early). The weather was great that day so naturally I headed to the beach. It
was my first trip to the beach this spring and it will be my last for a while
with the season fast approaching.

photo.JPG


After the off day it was back to work. The excitement is building and everyone
is getting ready to head north for opening day. We have 6 games left on the
Grapefruit League schedule and then it’s off to St. Louis!

Update

Sorry for the long wait everybody, things have been a lot busier
down here since games started but I’ve finally got another entry for you guys. I’ve
got a little time to kill right now on our three hour drive back from Lakeland
where we just defeated the Tigers.

Things have been going well since the games started. We have been
playing some good baseball and have been winning quite a few games. There were a
couple of injury scares with two of our key pitchers but both have since
returned to action.

We have also seen the clubhouse numbers dwindle over the past
couple of weeks as there have been two rounds of cuts made. Luckily, I was not part
of the cuts and I’m still hanging around. Once the regulars begin to take on
more of a workload (whether it’s on the mound or getting at bats) there is less
playing time to go around and guys are sent down.

One of those players was short stop Pete Kozma. Even though he was
sent down, he was nice enough to do a little interview with me so that you guys
might get to know him a little better. Pete and I were both drafted in the same
year (2007) so we have sort of climbed the ranks together. He was the first
round selection by the Cardinals that year. Pete and I have gotten to know each
other by playing together in Batavia, Palm Beach, and Springfield where we have
turned countless double plays as the SS/2B combo.

 

Daniel Descalso: Pete, tell all the fans out there a little about
yourself…where are you from? How old are you?

Pete Kozma: Well, I’m from Owasso, OK which is a little ways
outside of Tulsa. Neither one of my parents are from Oklahoma. My dad is from
Detroit and my mom is from New York. I am 22 but will turn 23 during the
season.

DD: This being your second big league camp, how would you compare
it to last year’s?

PK: I was definitely a lot more comfortable this year coming in
and knowing how Tony and his staff run spring training. It was also nice that I
got some more playing time this year and had some success.

DD: What did you work on this off-season to get ready for spring
training and the upcoming season?

PK: I worked out a little with my trainer in Tulsa getting in
shape for the long season. I also focused a lot on my hitting and trying to get
my swing feeling good going into camp.

DD: Who has been your biggest influence on your baseball career?

PK: Definitely my family. They have always been there to support
me throughout my baseball playing. Without them I would not be where I am
today.

DD: If you were not playing baseball what would you be doing?

PK: I would probably be a baseball coach. I had a lot of good
coaching when I was growing up and it would be great to have that kind of
influence on kids too.

DD: What do you like to do on your off days to get away from
baseball?

PK: My favorite off day activity is to just relax and hang out by
the pool. The season is long and demanding that I just like to take it easy and
rest on my days off.

DD: What is your proudest accomplishment of your baseball career
so far?

PK: It would have to be hitting the game winning home run in our
high school baseball state championship game. That’s something that I will
never forget.

DD: So I know this about you, but I’m sure the fans don’t know how
big of a classic rock fan you are. How did that come about?

PK: Well my parents would always listen to it when I was younger
so I grew up listening to their music and still do now. I like to quiz my
teammates when classic rock songs come in during batting practice.

DD: Yeah, I know. You have stumped me a few times. I’ve got a
couple more quick questions, just give me the first answer that you think of.
Favorite food?

PK: Seafood

DD: Favorite TV show?

PK: That 70’s Show

DD: Favorite Band?

PK: Led Zeppelin

DD: And finally what everyone is dying to know…boxers or briefs?

PK: Haha, definitely boxers.


Pete Kozma everyone. Remember the name.

Round 2

Hello again baseball fans. It’s time for round two from
Jupiter. Full squad workouts have been underway for a little more than a week
now with all the position players joining the pitchers on the 19th.
The feel around camp has been very positive so far. Everyone is excited about
the team this year and what is in store for the Cardinals.

Just to give you guys an idea of what a typical day is like
for me during spring training, I am going to give you a full rundown of my day:

6:00 am: Wake up (hardest part of the day)

6:15: Leave for Roger Dean Stadium (still half asleep while
I listen to Jon rap whatever song he has on in the car. He won’t be trying out
for American Idol anytime soon)

6:30: Arrive at stadium (proceed straight to the coffee
dispenser)

7:00: Ride the stationary bike and stretch

7:15: Batting cage for some early hitting

7:45: Breakfast time

8:00: Weight room

8:45: Crossword puzzle to kill a half hour (keeps my brain
sharp as well)

9:15: Team meeting

9:30: Team stretch

9:50: Play catch

10:00: Break into position groups (infielders, outfielders,
catchers, and pitchers)

46.jpg10:30: Team Defense (Bunt coverages, cut offs and relays,
pick offs, etc)

84.jpg

11:00: Break into offensive groups

-         
Our offensive groups rotate between different stations
that include batting practice, bunting, offensive signs, situations, base
running, and live hitting against our pitchers.

173.JPG1114.JPG

We usually finish up by 12:30-1:00 pm depending on how many
stations we have that day and how long each station is. After we are done with
the offensive work I usually get some extra defensive work in either at second
base or third base (whichever one I did not work on in the morning).

1:00(ish): Lunch time

My day starts a little earlier than most because I prefer to
get my workout in before practice as opposed to after. A lot of the players
work out after we finish for the day so it is usually less crowded in the
morning. Finishing at one in the afternoon leaves a lot of time to kill in the
afternoons so I spend most of this downtime comfortably planted on my couch
catching up on some of my favorite TV shows (Modern Family, House,
Californication, and How I Met Your Mother to name a few) or playing video games.
On days that might be a little longer than others this naturally becomes
naptime.

The video games of choice this year have been FIFA Soccer
2011 and NBA Jam. We just had a 5 team, 2-on-2 FIFA tournament on Thursday that
I can proudly say was dominated by my teammate (Adam Ottavino) and myself. And
when I say dominated I mean we outscored our opponents 9-1. No big deal. We
attribute our win to the countless late night hours of practice we had in
Memphis during the 2010 season.

>> With all the excitement coming out of Cardinals camp I have
overlooked one piece of disheartening news: the injury to All-Star pitcher Adam
Wainwright.
We lost Adam for the season after his first live batting practice
session and had Tommy John (ligament replacement surgery in the
elbow) today. Adam is a leader on the field and in the clubhouse. He has been
one of the toughest pitchers and fiercest competitors in the big leagues over
the last few years. You can’t truly replace his combination of talent and
character but the challenge has now been presented for a pitcher or multiple
pitchers to step up and fill the void left by Adam. We all wish him the best
and hope for a speedy recovery.

Adam.Wainwright.jpg

We kick off our Grapefruit League season against
the Marlins today (Monday Feb. 28th). It’s time for us hitters to
beat up on some other pitchers that aren’t wearing Cardinal red, or in some
cases to stop getting our bats broken or being struck out by our own teammates.
Either way, it is always exciting when you get to put on that uniform and step
out on that field to compete- whether it’s in spring training or the playoffs.
Tomorrow will mark the first live game action and a big step towards winning
the Grapefruit League Championship haha…I mean the World Series.

Spring Training has begun…

Greetings from Jupiter, FL. It’s
that time of year again Cardinals/Redbirds fan. Dust off your bats and gloves
because Grapefruit League Baseball is upon us. The quest to bring another world
championship to St. Louis began when pitchers and catchers reported on Feb. 14th
and is now in full swing with the addition of the position players on Feb 19th.

My journey to Jupiter began early
in the morning on Sunday the 13th only 3,000 miles away at the San
Francisco airport. I was fired up because both of my bags made it under the
50-pound limit (one was 50 and the other 49) and I avoided the extra charges.
Spring Training was getting started on the right foot before I even boarded the
plane. Now one thing that has been a guarantee for me ever since I have been a
Cardinal is that long trip from San Francisco to Jupiter. I know an Arizona
site would be a lot easier for me but our setup and facilities at Roger Dean
Stadium are first class and worth the cross country trek. Even though it is my
fourth spring training (second big league camp), that trip out to Florida is
always as exciting as it is long. I look forward to trading in the off-season
sessions in the weight room at my old high school (St. Francis, Mountain View
shout out!!) for the batting cages and backfields of the Roger Dean Complex.

My roommate this spring training is
none other than the biggest University of Miami fan, Mr. 305 himself: Jon Jay
(you can follow Jon on Twitter: @jonjayu).

Just in case you don’t remember what he looks like>>

Jon Jay.jpg

During spring training everyone has
the option of staying at the team hotel or finding accommodations on their own.
Jon and I decided to rent a condo near the PGA National golf course in Palm
Beach Gardens. Great Decision.


Our condo for the next six weeks >>
photohouse.JPG

The hotel can get old sometimes, especially for
6 weeks but here in the condo we have a nice living room, a kitchen (where I do
some of my best work), and our own rooms. Not to mention the pool that is a 30
second walk from our front door, not too shabby.


The view of our pool>>photopool2.JPG

I was tired after a long day of
travel and getting settled into the condo so I called it a night pretty early…even
though I was going through my yearly adjustment from west coast time to east
coast time which is never fun, by the way. The plan was for Jon to arrive
Monday morning, unpack his stuff, and then we were going to head to the field
to report a few days early and get going. I awoke to my phone ringing a little
before 4am- it was Jon. He was so ready to get to Jupiter that he couldn’t
sleep and just decided to make the hour drive up from Miami in the middle of
the night. With him being so excited, that got me excited. We sat there at 4:30
in the morning just catching up and getting fired up about the next six weeks
of spring and the season that follows. It was pretty funny.

Jon and I relaxing at the new place>>
photorelaxing.JPGphotojay.JPG

We went to the field the next day,
settled into the clubhouse, said hello to old and new teammates, and got a
short workout in (though it was unofficial because we didn’t have to be there
until Saturday). The off-season has come and gone and now it is time to get to
work.

Stay tuned as I post more updates about
what goes on at St. Louis Cardinals Spring Training!




Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.