FORT MYERS, Fla. — After making the near three-hour trek across Florida to watch his team play a split-squad Spring Training game at JetBlue park, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny had his eye on one opponent in particular.
Unbeknownst to Mike Matheny, Red Sox manager John Farrell had selected Mike’s son, Tate Matheny, to come off the bench for Monday’s Grapefruit League game, which ended in a 7-2 win for the Cardinals.
“That’s pretty special stuff,” Mike Matheny said in an interview with Ian Browne of MLB.com.
Mike Matheny said he’d only seen his son play in one college game.
“I got to watch him play one game in his college career and that was his junior year at a game in Jacksonville,” Mike Matheny said. “It just happened that we were in Orlando so I made the trek over. It’s amazing, you’d think I’d get a chance to see him more, but we have conflicting schedules.”
Mike Matheny even had the opportunity to try to pick his son off with a throw over to first base immediately after he entered the game.
“It was cool,” Mike Matheny said. “I let his mom know just in case she could find the game online somewhere.”
Tate and Mike Matheny had the opportunity for a brief conversation and a hug during Cardinals batting practice.
“He’s been around helping me do this thing since I was a kid,” said Tate Matheny. “He’s known my swing inside and out since I was a baby. He’s been a big influence in my baseball career. He’s always pushed me to be better every day but never pushed me out of this game. He’s pushed me the right amount to figure out how much I love this sport and how to play the game the right way.”
Tate Matheny hit .277 with 20 doubles, 4 triples, 5 homers and 52 RBIs playing for Class A Greenville last year. Though he struck out 104 times, he stole 21 bases.
Growing up with baseball as such an important part of his life, Matheny recognizes he’ll have to work to become more than an extra at Major League camp.
“There’s a lot more work that went into this offseason to get my body in shape to be able to last a full 140 games,” Matheny said. “I feel a lot stronger. I feel my endurance is a lot better so hopefully I’ll get through these first few grinding months and feel a lot better.”