SPRINGFIELD, Mo–Members of the St. Louis Cardinals are slowly reporting to Busch Stadium for what’s being called summer camp.
By mid-week that group will swell to 44 players.
By mid-July, 30 will stay with the big league Cardinals, and 14 will report to Springfield, and join 16 others to form the Cardinals taxi squad.
It won’t be your traditional opening day, but on July 14th baseball will return to Hammons Field.
“We’re thrilled. During this whole thing we’ve been on a suspended business plan. There have been less people in here. But I’ll tell you since this has been announced, we’ve all had an extra bounce in our step,” said Springfield General Manager Dan Reiter.
Hammons Field will be the home of the St. Louis Cardinals taxi squad.
That’s a group of 30 or so minor league players who will form a backup unit to support the big league club when the major league season starts.
Reiter:”I think the most interesting thing about the taxi squad is that it’ll be different then what anybody has ever seen. It’s not your normal minor league experience. It’ll be a combination of young prospects who need seasoning. But also some guys who can make an immediate impact for the St. Louis Cardinals.”
This taxi squad will work like they would in spring training, with batting practice, infield drills and intersquad games.
One thing that won’t be there will be fans.
Covid-19 protocols would prohibit that.
“Do we want to? Absolutely. All of us want fans. The players want fans. The core of all of this is for the players to be safe. I think that’s what’s going to be so important for what we do in Springfield. In case they do need to be called up to the big leagues,” said Reiter.
The Cardinal taxi squad players will most likely be housed in one location and live in somewhat of a bubble with meals and non-baseball activities tightly regulated.
“We’re not really the Springfield Cardinals in this situation. We’re more like an outpost for the St. Louis Cardinals. And I think it’s going to run different because of that. But I don’t think different good or bad. It’s meant to be a manner to help the team win. And honestly here in Cardinals country that’s what we all want. We want the big league club to win,” said Reiter.
Major league baseball wanted the taxi squads to close to their home stadiums.
But the St. Louis Cardinals petitioned MLB to allow Springfield to host this unit.
“They wanted to be in Springfield. Even though we’re more than 100 miles away, they know this community, they trust this community. And they feel that their players can be safe being here with Springfield,” said Reiter.