No mention of Cubs as Matheny addresses Cards

'We have to compete against every team they throw at us,' manager says as he sets tone for season

No mention of Cubs as Matheny addresses Cards

JUPITER, Fla. -- With a clubhouse audience as large as he'll stand in front of all year, manager Mike Matheny sought to set the tone for the season ahead by delivering his annual address in advance of the Cardinals' first full-squad workout of spring.

Matheny wouldn't disclose many details about the content of his remarks, insisting that what was said was "meant for them." But he did acknowledge that the one topic that frequented fireside chats around the St. Louis region all winter did not permeate the clubhouse walls.

Intentionally, there was no mention of the Cubs.

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"We have to compete against every team they throw at us," Matheny explained after emerging from the meeting with his team. "No matter who it is, the day we start taking somebody for granted, we're in a lot of trouble."

Anticipation for a season-long showdown between the Birds and the Bears has been growing since last year, when the Cubs chased the Cardinals to the regular-season finish line, knocked them out of the postseason and then snagged headlines by luring two of St. Louis' best to play for them. Cognizant of the buildup that will cloak every game between the rival clubs this season, Matheny maintains the need for a wider lens.

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He noted, too, that the Pirates -- who have finished second to the Cards in the National League Central for three straight years -- were conspicuously absent his remarks.

Matheny begins piecing together topics for his annual address during the offseason, often drawing from the reflecting he does during that time. He's a voracious reader and plucks nuggets of wisdom from his studies of legendary coaches John Wooden and Vince Lombardi.

The speech then takes shape upon his arrival in Florida. He'll survey the team's early-arriving veterans to understand what's been on their minds and determine all that needs to be covered. There is typically an emphasis on the process.

"Some is aimed toward the guys who haven't been there," Matheny said. "Some is aimed toward the guys who were here last year to make sure they were watching and learning and challenged to improve. … I think there were some guys in there who needed to hear what [the Cardinals are] about. I think there were some guys in there who needed to know what I thought about over the winter, and how I evaluated what I did last year."

Matheny isn't alone in addressing the room, which is occupied by every player invited to Major League camp, as well as numerous staff members. General manager John Mozeliak and owner Bill DeWitt Jr. are also among those who lay out expectations during the gathering.

Matheny did pause to make special mention of Red Schoendienst in front of the group on Tuesday. Schoendienst, 93, reported to Spring Training for the 72nd time last week and regularly dresses in uniform to aid in instruction.

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