JUPITER, Fla. (AP) - Carlos Beltran and Jake Westbrook limped to the St. Louis Cardinals' clubhouse moments apart Thursday, which made manager Mike Matheny glad it was still only February.
Beltran bruised the little toe on his right foot when he was hit by a pitch in the first inning of the Cardinals' 8-2 victory over the Miami Marlins. Westbrook bruised his left leg below the knee on a grounder hit by Casey Kotchman in the second inning.
Beltran's X-rays were negative, but he said the injury was painful, and he was unsure whether it would affect his plans to play for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic. Westbrook didn't undergo X-rays.
Beltran scored after being hit then left the game.
``It hurt running around the bases,' he said. ``I tried to stay. I tried not to think about it. I tried to run around the bases, but it really got sore.'
Westbrook, pitching in his first game, departed after a long visit at the mound from Matheny and a team trainer.
``I told them I could have kept pitching,' Westbrook said. ``They said there's no reason and no pushing it. I didn't really feel like arguing about it in the first game of spring training.'
Matheny told reporters he was taking no chances.
``It's the last day that I can keep barking at you guys that we are still in February,' Matheny said.
Westbrook faced six batters and allowed four hits, including an RBI triple by Giancarlo Stanton. The Cardinals veteran said too many pitches caught the middle of the plate but he was otherwise encouraged.
``I felt like I was on the right track,' Westbrook said.
``He looked good,' Matheny said. ``The ball was down. That's him. I think his velocity was good. He looked like he was in great shape. We're just going to try and get him built up.'
Cardinals non-roster invitee Oscar Taveras hit a grand slam off Marlins starter Justin Turner, who retired only one batter in his first spring training appearance. He walked three, hit a batter and gave up four consecutive hits, including the grand slam.
``He just looked uncomfortable from the start,' manager Mike Redmond said. ``I'm not going to make too big a deal of it.'
Stanton had a triple, double, single and walk. Last year's NL slugging champion finished February with a slugging percentage of 1.000 and is impressing new manager Redmond.
``He's a special player,' Redmond said. ``I heard so much about him, and everybody said the same thing about how great a player he is. It has been a brief amount of time, but it's fun to watch him.'
Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina started at first base and robbed Rob Brantly of a hit and two RBIs. Matheny hopes Molina plays some first base for Puerto Rico in the WBC so his innings at catcher are limited this spring.
Notes: Cardinals SS Rafael Furcal is targeting Saturday's game against Washington for his first appearance in the field, but Matheny said that isn't a firm date. Matheny will wait until team doctors tell him Furcal's elbow discomfort stemming from a bone spur and last year's strained ligament has improved to a point that Furcal can successfully make the throw from deep in the hole. Furcal was the DH in Thursday's B-game on the back fields. ... Hall of Famer Lou Brock wore a uniform in the Cardinals dugout, reprising his spring training roll as a special instructor. ... Top Marlins pitching prospect Jose Fernandez faced the minimum of six batters in two innings in a B game against the Cardinals. Fernandez, a first-round draft pick in 2011, is expected to start the season at Double-A Jacksonville. ... The Clydesdales trekked across the outfield warning track before the game.
The Associated Press News Service
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