JUPITER, Fla. -- As reliever Matt Belisle took the mound on Sunday for his second bullpen session of Cardinals camp, he directed new teammate Adam Wainwright to get positioned behind the catcher and keep a watchful eye. Sure enough, minutes later, Wainwright started calling pitches, picking up exactly what Belisle was going to throw before the ball was released.
The exercise is one done routinely by St. Louis pitchers during these early spring days, when a tipping-pitches station is included in their workout rotation. Though this is a longstanding Spring Training requirement for the Cardinals, pitchers who have come over from other organizations say it's not so commonplace everywhere.
"For me, it's just a very clear aspect of the way the Cardinals do things," Belisle said. "I think it continues to show in baseball that small, slight things are usually significant things, especially when it comes a point in a game where it's time to win or lose.
"I used to watch the Cardinals starters all go out to the bullpen when I was on opposing teams, and I thought that was great. But only now do I start to understand why we're doing that and the focus that each person is putting in to be accountable to their teammate and make sure we're staying consistent on our deliveries."
Former Major League pitcher Cal Eldred, who now serves as a special assistant to the general manager, typically facilitates these tipping-pitches exercises.
"We realize that this is a big deal," Eldred said. "I tip my hat to this coaching staff and [pitching coach Derek] Lilliquist especially, going, 'All right, this is going to make us better.' This organization has a tendency to not leave any stone unturned."
Wainwright's observations on Sunday were beneficial to Belisle, who is using a slightly modified delivery after incorporating some offseason tweaks. He said he's be guilty of tipping pitches before, with the Cardinals standing out as one of the teams he felt had him solved.
"I'm excited because that's something I can tighten up in my own personal delivery and get better at looking at with others," Belisle said. "And maybe I can get great at watching an opponent to help a hitter. I love it. I love everything about what's going on here."