Knizner: role with Cardinals has to be earned

National

ST. LOUIS–As Andrew Knizner made his rise through the St. Louis Cardinals organization, he saw one potential heir to succeed Yadier Molina get traded, as Carson Kelly did in the December 2018 deal for Paul Goldschmidt. The trade opened a path for Knizner to see time in St. Louis over parts of the past two seasons, behind Molina and Matt Wieters.

Over this past offseason, as Molina hit the free agency market and Wieters was not re-signed, there were plenty of questions about the future of the catching position. Before Molina ultimately re-signed earlier this month, the front office said in the event Molina went elsewhere, it could look outside the organization for alternate solutions.

Friday, in a Zoom interview session with reporters, Knizner said he didn’t get caught up in offseason speculation, including wondering if he might be part of the package St. Louis would end up sending to Colorado in the trade for Nolan Arenado.

“I don’t try to get too caught up in trades and any dealings with the front office. That’s all stuff out of my control and I’ve been saying this for years now” he said. “I try to focus on what my job is and what I can control and that’s in the offseason, trying to get better every day.”

Knizner’s offseason included lots of video, watching games from the past season, of other teams, trying to learn about late-game management, situational baseball, and what separates a catcher with a low ERA from the ones with a high one. He also checked in with the Cardinal pitching staff to find out how their offseason bullpen sessions were going.

There are other catchers in camp behind Molina, including one of the organization’s top prospects in Ivan Herrera, along with two others who have some major league experience in Tyler Heineman and Ali Sanchez, but Knizner said he’s ready to keep watching, to keep learning and improving.

“Life in general, nothing’s a guarantee, you’re not just going to be given a spot. I think everything with the Cardinals organization is earned through performance, preparation and just working hard,” he said. I’m not going to change my process and I’m going to stick going out every single day, competing for that job and working hard and getting better.”

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