Cardinals could have alternate training site closer to St. Louis this spring

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The Cardinals are looking at locations closer to St. Louis to host the team’s alternate site camp in 2021. Younger prospects would likely stay stationed at the team’s spring training home in Jupiter, Florida. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

ST. LOUIS–Major League Baseball will use the alternative training site model it employed in 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic shut down the minor league season, and on Wednesday, the St. Louis Cardinals confirmed the team is exploring the idea of conducting that camp closer to St. Louis

ESPN first reported the news about the alternative model’s return, due to the delay of the AAA minor league schedule.

In 2020, the Cardinals used the facilities of the club’s AA team in Springfield, Mo for the alternate site, but in 2021, that would mean a conflict with the Missouri State Bears, who also use Hammonds Field.

“We’re just going to weigh all our options,” Cardinals President of Baseball Operations told reporters Wednesday in considering a location closer to St. Louis, including independent minor league facilities, while acknowledging that Springfield could end up still being the location. A decision could come within the next week.

Car Shield Field, home to the Prospect League’s O’Fallon Hoots, a summer wood bat baseball league, has not been a subject of discussion with the Cardinals yet, the Hoots said Wednesday.

“At this point, we have not heard from the Cardinals regarding alternate site training. We would certainly be open to a conversation should they need a local option in the area,” David Schmoll, Hoots General Manager told FOX2 via email Wednesday.

FOX2 has contacted Gateway Grizzlies management for comment but has not heard back yet regarding the possible use of the Frontier League team’s GCS Credit Union Ballpark in Sauget, just across the Mississippi River from Busch Stadium.

The alternate site would be managed by the Cardinals’ AAA Memphis staff, with a roster of players likely to end up playing in Memphis once the International League season begins, along with 5 players who would be available to serve on a “taxi squad” for the Major League club on road trips. Younger players currently in Spring Training with Cardinals who don’t make the big league roster would likely stay in Jupiter, rather than head to the alternate site, where they would be able to compete in actual games, Mozeliak said.

While young prospects like Matthew Liberatore and Nolan Gorman got exposure to older players while being at the alternate site in 2020, Mozeliak said the model is not “all that beneficial” when it comes to player development.

“You grow as a player when you’re able to play the game,” he said.

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