- Associated Press - Saturday, March 8, 2014

JUPITER, Fla. (AP) - Trevor Rosenthal had a pain-free spring training debut and Michael Wacha pitched three effective innings for the St. Louis Cardinals in a 4-4 tie with a Washington Nationals split squad that was called after 10 innings Saturday.

Groin pain prompted the Cardinals to sideline Rosenthal for a few days this spring, but that wasn’t a problem Saturday. The hard-throwing closer said he’s nearly in regular-season form following his first Grapefruit League appearance.

“It kind of feels like I haven’t skipped a beat since last year,” said Rosenthal, who assumed the closer role late last season and saved four postseason games. “I’m pretty close to being season-ready.”

The 22-year-old Wacha worked two perfect innings before allowing a run on two hits and a walk in the third.

Destin Hood’s three-run homer gave the Nationals a 4-1 lead in the eighth. St. Louis tied it with three in the bottom half, including Greg Garcia’s two-run single.

Rosenthal entered in the fourth and pitched a scoreless inning with one walk. His fastball consistently touched the upper 90s (mph) on the stadium radar gun and his final pitch, clocked at 100 mph, struck out Brock Peterson.

“I think it was probably off,” Rosenthal said, indicating that final delivery was likely a few ticks below the century mark.

Heads-up baserunning by Yadier Molina in the second inning led to the Cardinals‘ first run. Molina singled, stole second and scored on Mark Ellis’ single to center.

Matt Carpenter robbed Jamey Carroll of a hit with a diving play at third base in the first.

Carpenter couldn’t corral Carroll’s liner in the third, which ticked off his glove and rolled into left field, allowing Peterson to score the Nationals’ first run.


Nationals: Chris Young allowed one run and two hits while walking three in three innings. It was his second appearance - and first start - of the spring.

Young underwent surgery for a pinched nerve last season and said his shoulder is pain-free for the first time in a while. So far this spring Young is pleased with his off-speed pitches and is working on locating his fastball.

“I’m trying to show that I’m healthy and that I’m back,” he said. “When I’ve been healthy I’ve been a pretty successful major league pitcher.”

Cardinals: Wacha wanted to improve his efficiency following his first spring outing. He threw 31 of his 51 pitches for strikes Saturday, leaving some work to do.

“I went to 3-2 a lot after starting them 0-2,” Wacha said. “That’s something I have to work on instead of just nibbling.”


Cardinals: Manager Mike Matheny said center fielder Peter Bourjos is “champing at the bit” to get back into a game. Bourjos is dealing with a sore hamstring and has been held out of action mostly as a precaution. He is on the travel roster, however, for Sunday’s game against Washington.

St. Louis reliever Jason Motte threw another bullpen as he returns from elbow ligament-replacement surgery. Motte said the session went well, though he might need another one before facing batters.


Matt Holliday, Yadier Molina, Allen Craig and Adam Wainwright all attended Saturday’s news conference to announce Carpenter’s $52 million, six-year deal. Every member of that group is under contract with the Cardinals through at least 2016.

Cardinals Chairman and CEO Bill DeWitt said the club thinks of Carpenter as “part of a nucleus that we believe will contend for championships, not just this year but for years to come.”


Top prospect Oscar Taveras’ surgically repaired ankle responded well enough after Friday’s first Grapefruit League appearance to warrant more playing time Saturday. After playing the outfield a day earlier, Taveras went hitless in three at-bats as the Cardinals‘ designated hitter.

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