Cardinals get going at spring camp, with an 'edge'

Friday, February 15, 2013 | 8:44 p.m. CST

JUPITER, Fla. — Rain hampered the St. Louis Cardinals in their first full workout of spring training on Friday. It didn't dampen their enthusiasm.

Cardinals players joked in the clubhouse and discussed their goals for a World Series title while holding limited workouts in soggy South Florida. The team last year fell one game short of going to their second straight series.

"We had some guys come back with a serious edge," said second-year manager Mike Matheny, a longtime member of the organization. "It seems like this team is more motivated than they've ever been before."

The second consecutive day of rain forced hitters into covered batting cages instead of onto the fields and eliminated fielding practice. Though the rain had mostly subsided prior to the start of the mid-morning workouts, Matheny chose to take a cautious approach.

"I was ready to roll," he said. "We had a real nice schedule put out today. Our guys were going to feel it today."

Free agent signee Ronny Cedeno was the lone position player who didn't arrive in camp by Friday's reporting date. The Venezuelan is expected to fill a utility role for the Cardinals but is still trying to get his visa approved. Relief pitcher Carlos Martinez, a native of the Dominican Republic, is also trying to resolve a similar issue.

This is the second spring for Carlos Beltran in a Cardinals uniform. This time, he comes to Jupiter with a little more knowledge about what to expect.

When Beltran signed with the Cardinals before the start of last season, many wondered whether he could put up the kind of offensive numbers that would help offset the loss of Albert Pujols to free agency.

Matheny noted that it looked like Beltran was in better shape this spring, a year after hitting .269 with 32 homers and 97 RBIs.

"I'm more comfortable for sure," said Beltran, who arrived in Jupiter a couple days ago for what he estimated to be his 17th major league spring training. "I think last year when I came over I knew what I needed to do but it's kind of hard to adjust to a new clubhouse, sometimes."

Left fielder Matt Holliday hit for the first time this spring in Jupiter on Friday and said the nagging back problem that limited him in the playoffs isn't affecting him now. He wasn't too bothered by spending his first workout in the cage instead of on the fields.

"We have plenty of time," said Holliday, noting that the World Baseball Classic has extended spring training this year. "There will be plenty of beautiful days and we will be out there for many hours. I don't think anybody's too disappointed."

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