JUPITER, Fla. -- The biggest lesson learned on a day when he made his first career Grapefruit League start came as right-hander Zach Petrick walked back into the Cardinals' dugout at the end of his second inning.
He was approached by staff ace Adam Wainwright, who asked Petrick if he knew what time he had finished warming up for the game. Petrick took a guess; Wainwright corrected it.
"Fifty-two," Wainwright told him.
That was in reference to 12:52 p.m. ET, 15 minutes before the actual first pitch would be thrown. It was too early a finish, especially since Petrick didn't take the mound until the bottom half of the first.
"That gave me a lot of time to sit in there getting cold," Petrick noted afterward. "It's something I should have known last year from being a starter. I was getting warmed up real quick in the bullpen the last couple of games and got warmed up way too early today and threw too much in the bullpen. I think it threw me off a little bit. I got out there and was working outside the zone instead of just challenging them. I feel like I didn't have my best stuff, so I didn't trust it today."
Though Petrick projects to open the season in the Triple-A rotation, he made his first two spring appearances in relief, where warming up quickly is a plus. He was chosen to make Friday's start after the Cardinals had to pull back Lance Lynn, who is dealing with a left hip flexor strain.
Petrick needed 46 pitches (25 strikes) to get through the two-inning outing and allowed four runs on five hits and two walks in the Cardinals' 6-3 loss to the Marlins. Reid Brignac's three-run triple put the Cardinals into an early 4-0 hole.
Catcher Yadier Molina pointed out to Petrick that he wasn't aggressive enough, something Petrick believes was related to his rhythm being thrown off.
While it may not have been the showcase start Petrick desired, his getting to this position is somewhat remarkable. He went undrafted after his senior season at the University of Northwestern Ohio in 2012, only to be contacted by the Cardinals and offered a minimal signing bonus for a chance at his pro dream.
A year later, Petrick earned the organization's Minor League Pitcher of the Year honors after posting a 1.99 ERA in 34 games across three levels. Last year, he pitched in Triple-A.
"I think it's a great story for all our guys in the organization," said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny. "They don't have to be that top pick. There's a nice signing bonus that comes with that, but after that you jump into the pool and see who swims the best. And he's a kid who's gone out and just performed."