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St. Louis Cardinals get touch of Wisdom

By Rick Hummel McClatchy Tribune News

JUPITER, Fla. - The "Cardinal Way" is something of an amorphous phrase to account for all good things, and to its detractors, the bad things, about the Cardinals' baseball club. But a potentially significant manifestation of this term came this offseason in Murrieta, Calif., a city of 106,810 in Riverside County.

All-Star outfielder and first baseman Allen Craig, who lives in Murrieta, asked 2013 Class A player Patrick Wisdom, who lives 10 minutes away in Murrieta, to work out with him.

"I knew of him but I hadn't officially met him," said the 22-year-old Wisdom, a supplemental first-round pick from St. Mary's in 2012 (Craig, 29, played at California).

"I didn't want to step on his toes or anything," Wisdom said. "He has his own process and own regimen, but I just liked being there and watching him and picking his brain about things.

"It's definitely been a good experience so far."

Craig, who started the first game of the exhibition season Friday and hit a ground-rule double against the Miami Marlins, was long gone from the game when Wisdom made his first official mark as a Cardinal.

Wisdom had made half the players happy Wednesday when he hit a game-ending homer in an intrasquad game, forcing members of the losing team to clean up the clubhouse. He made all of them happy in the ninth inning when he hit a 400-foot-plus, two-run homer to left center, although the Cardinals lost to Miami 5-4.

Wisdom, who started last year at Peoria, finished it at Palm Beach, where he batted .250 with two homers in 25 games after hitting .231 with 13 homers for Peoria.

Asked if his last game at Roger Dean Stadium last year was anything like his first this year, he said, "Honestly, I don't think (it) was good. I definitely didn't (hit a home run)."

Regarding the one he hit Friday, the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Wisdom said, "That felt good. I'm sure there's a lot of pressure on me to hit for my power."

But Wisdom, who probably will end up in Class AA Springfield at some point this year, said he couldn't try too hard to make a good impression in the major league camp.

"I learned last year that you can't focus on that because you get all nervous and (have) anxiety," he said. "You just have to play your game. That's what they really want to see. If I'm impressing them that way, then I think that's the best way to do it."

Wisdom was one for 12 in last year's big-league spring training. This year he is one for three, and manager Mike Matheny said, "That was a bomb. It was smashed.

"That's what you're supposed to do. Not necessarily hit home runs but you're supposed to make people sit up and notice. It's hard not to notice that."

Hitting coach John Mabry said he was impressed by Wisdom trying to gain as much as he could from other players, such as Craig.

"(Craig) knows what's he's talking about," said Mabry. "It's up to (Wisdom) to take that information and apply it.

"That's the trick of the whole gig, taking what you've learned and apply it. He's done a good job of it. He's a smart kid.

"He's definitely got power. But the deal is knowing that he has that power and not trying to generate it."

Meanwhile, Wisdom will hope to continue his learning curve by paying attention to his elders.

"There's a little separation because they're major leaguers but they intertwine us in everything they do and that's awesome," said Wisdom.

"Learn as much as possible. I know that's kind of a cliche, but we have All-Star guys in here, MVPs and a good coaching staff. These guys have made it and stayed up there and I'm going to try to incorporate as much as I can into my game."

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