JUPITER, Fla. -- It is customary before the first full-squad workout each spring for the Cardinals' manager to gather players and staff into the clubhouse and officially open spring with a message that sets the tone for the season ahead. This year, however, the meeting was also tinged with reflection.
It was a message months in the making for Mike Matheny, who understood the significance of having all of his players together for the first time since their teammate, Oscar Taveras, was killed in an October car crash. Matheny touched on the grieving process and also from the lessons that can be learned from tragedy. He also hoped to offer direction for how the group can collectively move forward.
"That was a kind of a tough balance because there was so much to talk about," Matheny said afterward. "There's an intersection there with some of these items we wanted to address and how that really puts us at the here and now. Obviously, there were some things that needed to be addressed right from the top that weren't necessarily about the competition on the field, but how it does relate to everything we do.
"Everything I heard from somebody speaking and everything I read this offseason, I kept going back to, 'OK, how can this apply to my guys?' All that tried to be condensed into a clear message early. We had some urgency this morning."
General manager John Mozeliak and principal owner Bill DeWitt Jr. also addressed the packed clubhouse. They have been involved in the planning of programs that the Cardinals will implement in an effort to prevent another incident of drinking and driving.
"When you get one of the owners of the organization, our chairman, standing up staying some things, guys are obviously paying very close attention," Matheny said. "And then our GM says the same things. It comes back to guys learning and growing and [us] investing into them. [It's] not just what we're trying to do collectively, but also what we're trying to help them achieve individually for themselves as well."
None of the players spoke during the meeting, Matheny said, though he specifically requested that Adam Wainwright wait to fly back to St. Louis on Wednesday afternoon so he would be present. The meeting lasted approximately 40 minutes, 10 minutes longer than scheduled.
"There are a number of guys in there who have never been to a big league camp," Wainwright said. "There are a few guys in there who have never been in our organization before that are coming over from a different place. It's good to set the tone from an early stage in camp and let you know what we're all about and how we're going to go about things."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.