JUPITER, Fla.—Keeping the negative results of last year’s defensive efforts in mind, manger Mike Matheny recruited former Cardinal great Ozzie Smith to improve to his infield.
Instead of running them through drills or showing them tricks for snagging ground balls, “The Wizard of Oz” decided to discuss the mental aspects of baseball, focusing on confidence.
According to Smith, it was the lack of confidence last year that was behind their defensive woes. Discussing shortstop Aledmys Diaz, Smith said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “Start believing that you can do something. That’s where it starts: believing you can do it.” Smith said he thinks that Diaz is a good player but is still learning footwork and angles. Diaz needs to start believing he has the potential of becoming a great all-around player.
Two other former Cardinals, Bob Gibson and Jim Edmonds, are scheduled to join Smith in specialized instruction for spring training. Matheny urged his players to use the knowledge these former greats bring and to not waste the tremendous opportunity of working with them.