Martinez among Cards pitchers to face hitters

Hurlers' bunting contest on tap; Scruggs getting work with outfielders

Martinez among Cards pitchers to face hitters

JUPITER, Fla. -- After having a first wave of pitchers throw live batting practice -- or, as the Cardinals now prefer to call it, pitching practice -- on Wednesday, a different group of 13 pitchers took the mound Thursday to face hitters for the first time this spring.

Included among those 13 were Lance Lynn, Trevor Rosenthal, John Lackey, Jordan Walden, Marco Gonzales, Sam Freeman, Carlos Martinez, Tyler Lyons, Carlos Villanueva, Mitch Harris, Sam Tuivailala, Marcus Hatley and Dean Kiekhefer. The sessions went without a hitch, though Lynn did plunk teammate Stephen Piscotty with one pitch.

Manager Mike Matheny downplayed the significance of pairing Martinez with Yadier Molina. Catchers rotate to get work with all of the pitchers throughout camp, though Molina has taken a particular interest in mentoring Martinez.

Here are some other items of note from Day 7 of camp:

• Red Schoendienst, 92, has not yet arrived to be a guest instructor, but the Cardinals do still expect to see Schoendienst at some point this spring. When he arrives, Schoendienst will be participating in his 70th Spring Training.

• Matheny said he expects to hold a pitchers' bunting competition later in camp to add an increased level of intensity to a drill that the pitchers go through daily. Last spring, the Cardinals also put a particular emphasis on pitchers' hitting work following a 2013 season in which the pitchers combined to hit .126/.157/.161 and strike out 139 times in 317 at-bats.

The numbers got slightly better in 2014 -- a .149/.188/.190 slash line with 121 strikeouts in 295 at-bats -- but Matheny said getting the pitchers to be productive at the plate continues to be a spring initiative.

• Though Xavier Scruggs is listed among the infielders on the daily workout schedule, the first baseman has been sneaking away from his group to also get work with the outfielders. Showing versatility will help Scruggs' case for a bench spot out of camp.

"It's going to be important for me to make sure that I'm getting the work in in the infield and in the outfield and just learning as much as possible, especially from the older guys," said Scruggs, who has made only two outfield appearances in his 738 career Minor League games. "That way I can easily go into the process of being ready for the games out there in the outfield."

• The Cardinals continue to encourage Matt Adams to work on his bunting, a skill he could then occasionally use when facing the defensive shifts that most teams are using against him.

"We worked a lot last year," Matheny said, "and we'll continue to work a lot this year to see if he gets more comfortable with it."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB and like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.