In the wake of a wave of roster churn on Friday afternoon, the St. Louis Cardinals got a little bit of a clubhouse face lift. The nameplates above each locker, previously a golden-yellow outline of each player’s name on a dark background, were replaced. They now feature a shot of the team lined up on the foul line for the national anthem before a home game.
Care was clearly taken to make sure none of the deposed players (or their former manager) were visible. However, ex-hitting coaches John Mabry and Bill Mueller are each visible in the shot, highlighting the difficulty of images keeping up with reality.
Changes are happening so quickly for the Cardinals that it’s hard to capture them on film.
Yet another move was made late Saturday, with Memphis first baseman and St. Louis-native Luke Voit heading to the New York Yankees with international signing slot money in exchange for relievers Chasen Shreve and Giovanny Gallegos. Shreve will arrive in St. Louis Monday, and both he and injured starter Carlos Martínez will have to be added to the active roster at that time. Two come, two go. Until the non-waiver trade deadline arrives on Tuesday afternoon, this will be the way of life for the Cardinals.
“The rumors are part of it,” said closer Bud Norris. Norris is perhaps the Cardinal most likely to be moved in the next two days, as he’s due to become a free agent at the end of the season and his experience will be highly sought by teams more likely to reach the postseason than St. Louis. “You don’t know how credible some of the sources are,” he said, “but you’re kind of in the loop.”
Norris was asked if being in the loop meant that he had a feeling about where he would be making his home on Tuesday night. “You guys tell me,” he joked. “It’s a coin flip, honestly. I know I want to be here.”
First baseman José Martínez, who was scratched from Sunday’s lineup at the last minute due to what the Cardinals said was lingering ankle soreness, echoed Norris’s feelings about wanting to stay. Asked about the possibility of moving on, Martínez said, “these are my buddies, man. These are like my brothers. We’ve been together for the whole year and you don’t want to leave them.
“I think this is my home, actually, and I’m glad to stay here. 100 percent.”
Cardinals interim manager Mike Shildt is experiencing his first trade deadline at the head of a major league club, and he said he was still learning about the process as it unfolded. He spoke about this week’s trades of Voit and reliever Sam Tuivailala, who have each been a member of no other professional organization, by saying, “you miss them and pull for them, and you just thank them. These are guys that you’re close to and you care about.”
Shildt said that he checks in with coaches on a daily basis to make sure the players in the clubhouse are on the right page with their focus. While he characterized himself as “not a big message guy,” he also said he’s on the lookout for players who may be “emotionally a little challenged at the moment.”
Some, like Norris, have been here and done this. In 2013, he was moved on deadline day from Houston to Baltimore. He said that he’s able to tune out the distractions and focus on baseball.
“I’m a reliever,” Norris said. “You live 24 hours at a time.”
“It’s about winning games and that’s what we’re doing right now, making the decisions upstairs pretty hard.”
For his part, Martínez said he prefers to be less engaged. Asked about his approach, he said, “play baseball and always think that I’m just gonna stay here. On this team.”
“I think if I actually think of that I’m not going to be able [to focus].”
In his career as a minor league manager, Shildt has seen countless players come and go. Some left the organization. Some left for the majors. Echoing Martínez, Shildt said that the feelings in those conversations are very different.
“It’s different because there’s some finality to it,” he said. “You talk about a guy moving on, talking about [Tuivailala] going to Seattle and he’s playing and [Voit] hopefully going and being in Yankee Stadium here in a couple days.”
Martínez and Norris might both be Cardinals on Tuesday night. Or, neither of them may be.
The clubhouse staff will be busy at the nameplate printer either way.
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