JUPITER, Fla. — Of the more than 150 players at minor league camp here, only one has been with the Cardinals each of the last two seasons. Right-hander Seth Elledge played 12 games in the 2020 season shortened by the pandemic and 11 games in 2021.
Now returning from the 40-man squad, Elledge is trying to regain big league status. When the 25-year-old returns to the majors, the Cardinals will know what to expect.
In 11 2/3 innings in 2020, he allowed six earned runs for a 4.63 ERA. In 11 2/3 innings in 2021, he allowed six earned runs for a 4.63 ERA, despite recording a big league win in 2020 and not having one last year.
Dallas native Elledge, who was acquired from Seattle in 2018 in exchange for colleague Sam Tuivalala, who has since been fired from the Mariners, wasn’t surprised to recognize his unique position in the camp.
“Looking around, I kind of realized that,” he said Tuesday after a hot day’s practice session.
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Elledge was on that train to Memphis more times than he probably liked. He’s committed to doing something about it — finding some extra pitches, like the changeup and the cutter, which he’s been working on to “enable me to face more batsmen and get deeper into the lineup.” be more versatile.
“I’m curious to see how they do against hitters,” Elledge said. “I mainly threw them in bullpens, so I’ll get some live batting practice here.”
The move was a playing field that Elledge had been tinkering with at the end of last season in St. Louis and even more so in Memphis. “I think I threw two on my last outing in St. Louis. I’ve worked with (pitching coach Mike) Maddux and Yadi (Molina),” said Elledge, who already had a moving fastball and a breaking ball that collapsed.
“So[Maddux]wanted something between the two in terms of speed,” Elledge said. “Just a third (or fourth) pitch to get them off the fastball or breaking ball.”
While Maddux and catcher Molina had helped Elledge with his move, senior minor league pitching coordinator Tim Leveque has been working with Elledge on his cutter for the past week.
“It’s an exciting pitch,” said Elledge. “We have all the (Rapsodo) data here to get feedback and tweak it. We can pull the data in 15 seconds so you can build on it.
“I know my fastball and breaking ball game at (big league) level whenever I’m in the zone. I think I have some understanding of what bats and barrels will be missing.
Elledge will play from behind this spring, no matter how long it takes at the major league level, because he likely won’t get many chances in Grapefruit League competition as big league teams prepare for a season that’s about to start will.
“I loved playing for the Cardinals up there in St. Louis,” he said. “I would definitely like to be back as soon as possible this year.
“I’m motivated to get back on (the roster), but I understand baseball is a business and I can’t apologize or complain about it. I just have to get better.
“I just have to do my best – and, I think, hope for the best.”
Spending almost a full season in the majors is “a great experience,” Elledge said. “I wouldn’t say I was satisfied. But I know I can keep up up there.
“I’m just looking forward to pitching here with Memphis.”
At Memphis in 2021 (he was at the alternate location for a while in 2020), Elledge was 2-2 with two saves and a 6.56 ERA. In the 11 games Elledge appeared in last season with the Cardinals, it was rarely used at a critical point. The Cardinals lost all 11 games.
His only major league win came when the Cardinals hit three runs in the ninth inning with Elledge, the record pitcher, on Aug. 20, 2020 to beat Cincinnati 5-4.
Elledge also has some stint in the big league as a batsman. He made contact twice, ending up last year on both occasions.
He likely won’t need a bat this season as the designated hitter is almost certainly in the game when he returns to the majors. “I think it’s over,” Elledge said. “But I enjoyed the few bats.”
He would enjoy having another quality pitch or two more.
McGreevy wants to build mass
Former shortstop Michael McGreevy, the Cardinals’ top draft pick from Cal-Santa Barbara in 2021, wants to be able to hold about 225 pounds on his 6-foot-4 frame rather than the 210 pounds he’s on he dived last year.
“My body didn’t feel like it,” said McGreevy, who said the extra weight also contributed to his fastball speed and off-speed pitches. “You see all the other pitchers in the organization and how tall and physically they are,” he said. “You want to get physical like her.”
McGreevy pitched 7 2/3 innings in seven games at Jupiter last summer, five of them for the Palm Beach Cardinals, after a long college season. He was a former high school teammate at San Clemente High School in California to right-hander Andre Pallante, a hard-throwing Cal Irvine College product who tore up the Arizona Fall League last fall.
“I wasn’t expecting to play my sophomore year at[San Clemente]varsity,” McGreevy said, “but our number 2[behind senior Pallante]went down and our coach was like, ‘McGreevy, can you serve? ‘ I said, ‘Yes, I can pitch.’
“That’s how my pitching career started. Ultimately that made me sad because I had to get past shortstop,” McGreevy said.
“But I think it worked out well.”