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Cardinals Double Up on Spring Training #98

As readers know, I am interested in the numerology of the St. Louis Cardinals, including their uniform assignments.

In the opening week of 2017 spring training camp, the club has made a number of moves that impacted an already-tight roster from the numeric perspective, including what appears to be at least one first.

Let’s review the changes in their approximate time sequence.

With the suspension of non-roster pitcher Corey Littrell, Corey Baker was added as a non-roster invitee. In this case, the change was easy, with Baker taking Littrell’s assigned number 75.

One number was freed up, as 60 was vacated due to the voiding of the minor league contract of non-roster invitee pitcher Kendry Flores.

Of course, St. Louis’ biggest pain was the season-ending elbow injury suffered by top prospect Alex Reyes. The losses led the Cardinals to add three other pitchers to big-league camp.

Mitch Harris, Junior Fernandez and Jake Woodford were selected as non-roster invitees this past weekend. Even though Harris had been removed from the 40-man roster last fall and was not originally invited to camp, the club had kept his number 40 aside this spring.

Fern-Ortegs-98The arrivals of Fernandez and Woodford seem to have been the straw that broke the camel’s back and are noteworthy for several reasons. First of all, giving number 99 to Woodford is the first time to my knowledge that it has been formally assigned on an ongoing basis to any Cardinal since popular outfielder So Taguchi left the team after the 2007 season.

Fernandez seems to be the first Cardinal spring camper to truly experience the club’s lack of uniform number alternatives. Being issued number 98 means Fernandez is doubling up with catcher Dennis Ortega, also wearing 98. While this is common in minor league camp, a substantially larger group, this is a first in St. Louis’ big-league camp, as far as I can tell.

It creates the potential for most confusing battery possible – pitcher number 98 throwing to catcher number 98!

Of course, this situation will not last very long, as Ortega, who played in the Gulf Coast League last season, is the least experienced catcher in camp. As such, he should be among the early cuts, at the point when fewer pitchers remaining will require fewer catchers to throw to. Since Fernandez was among the last additions, his chances of sticking very long seem lower, as well.

But, it is fun while it lasts – and likely this will not be the last time doubling up of uniform numbers will occur in the spring.

On the main post, I have kept the Cardinals’ overall 1-99 number assignment scoreboard up to date.

Update 2/25

The two number 98s faced off in live batting practice, but an errant Fernandez pitch beaned Ortega.

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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