Monday, May 6

DeJong goes yard in first recreation again: ‘An awesome begin’

SEATTLE — Throughout an MLB profession filled with great highs and downright puzzling lows, Cardinals shortstop Paul DeJong has all the time had a knack for being a robust starter.

It’s the half after the robust begins that has tended to journey up DeJong up to now, however he’s hoping he’s resistant to that taking place now with a new-and-improved plate strategy that definitely yielded stellar outcomes on Sunday.

DeJong, now 29 with 5 years of MLB service time, homered in his first huge league at-bat in Colorado again in 2017. The shortstop, who was demoted to Triple-A final yr following two-plus seasons of hitting struggles, homered in his first recreation again with the Cardinals on July 30. On Sunday, in his first recreation again after spending a lot of the previous month on rehab assignments due to an ailing again, DeJong homered once more in a three-hit onslaught that sparked the Cardinals’ offense to a 7-3 win over the Mariners at T-Mobile Park.

“Maybe it’s just the excitement of being back,” DeJong stated of his notable homer historical past in his first video games again on the MLB stage. “Being able to take it moment by moment and learn from [past experiences], I want to propel myself with that same attitude moving forward.”

DeJong, who had three hits, a house run and 6 RBIs in his last Triple-A rehab recreation earlier than making the journey from Memphis to Seattle, helped the slumping Cardinals keep away from being swept by the Mariners for the primary time in franchise historical past. After St. Louis scored simply six runs within the first two video games of the sequence, DeJong was an integral a part of an offense that pounded out 13 hits and smashed three dwelling runs. Lars Nootbaar homered on the sport’s first pitch, Nolan Gorman broke a 3-3 tie with a three-run smash and DeJong gave the Cardinals respiration room along with his seventh-inning clout. DeJong hit singles in two of his first three at-bats, and his 408-foot shot left the bat at 102.9 mph, in response to Statcast.

“Pauly looked good today, and that was a big homer for insurance there,” supervisor Oliver Marmol raved. “We’re encouraged [with DeJong’s progress]. This is a guy who put in a lot of work this offseason. We were excited to see it in spring, but unfortunately, we weren’t able to. We wanted to give him enough at-bats in that rehab stint to show what he was capable of doing, and today was a good start.”

Of course, the Cardinals and DeJong have been right here earlier than, hopeful the shortstop has rediscovered the swing that allowed him to hit 25, 19 and 30 homers in his first three MLB seasons. After showing within the All-Star Game in 2019, DeJong’s profession slowly slipped away over the following three years. Injuries and sickness rattled him in ’20, and his batting common plummeted to .197 in 2021 and .157 in ‘22.

Last season, DeJong was despatched to Triple-A Memphis following one other gradual begin, and he appeared to find a trusted and repeatable stroke. He homered in that first recreation again with the Cards in Washington final July, however extra struggles adopted.

With the staff demanding he make substantive adjustments on the plate, DeJong spent many of the winter on the Cardinals’ advanced in Jupiter, Fla. What arose from that work was a extra upright stance that options solely a minimal stride to raised assist him be on time and balanced on the plate. He used that on Sunday whereas nearly effortlessly ripping balls again by the center of the sphere.

“I think it’s monumental, really,” stated DeJong, who wore a maroon swimsuit with a paisley sample for the staff’s flight to San Francisco, the place the Cards will face the Giants over the following 4 nights. “I don’t really watch myself anymore [on video replays] because I want to be able to feel it out there. So I don’t really know what it looks like, but I know what it feels like in my head. I feel on time and ready to hit. Obviously, we have a long way to go, but today was a great start.”

Jack Flaherty, whose three runs allowed in six innings on Sunday gave the Cardinals the sort of high quality begin they badly wanted, feels DeJong is lastly poised to be a sustainable difference-maker for St. Louis.

“It was nice to see Pauly today, and I gave him a big hug,” stated Flaherty, who allowed six or fewer hits for a thirtieth straight begin since September of 2020 — the longest lively streak in MLB. “We know what Paul can do when he’s proper. When he does what he can do, it provides one other dimension to the lineup. We’ve acquired numerous depth on this staff.”

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