Mike Matheny pulled into the parking lot at 5:30 a.m. Monday, eager to start his second season as the St. Louis Cardinals manager.
"My family is not with me so basically all I have to do is sleep," Matheny said. "I'd rather be here getting something done than lying around somewhere."
Not long after he arrived, several of his pitchers and catchers started showing up. With the first official workout on Tuesday, Matheny was impressed when he saw the amount of players working out.
"Jason Motte came running in in a panic asking if he was running late," Matheny said. "That's a nice feeling. You want to see the young players eager. You want to make an impression, you want to be seen, you want to show what you can do. Sometimes coming early is the best way to do that."
It wasn't just the young players. Catcher Yadier Molina and pitchers like Adam Wainwright and Jake Westbrook were on the field and in the weight room. Molina and Wainwright have been here for several days.
"When Yadi is the first one in the cage and he says he has to earn a starting position. . If he says that then every one of these guys have to say the same thing," Matheny said.
The Cardinals made another deep run in the playoffs last year, losing Game 7 of the NLCS to San Francisco after building a 3-1 series lead.
"When you're one win away from making the World Series it sticks with you all off season," pitcher Lance Lynn said.
The team learned last week that veteran starter Chris Carpenter likely will not pitch this season after experiencing pain in his right arm, a flare up of the nerve issue that limited him to six games in 2012. Losing Carpenter leaves a gaping hole in the rotation with Wainwright, Jaime Garcia and Westbrook at the top, Lynn a favorite to fill the fourth spot and three others — Shelby Miller, Joe Kelly and Trevor Rosenthal — vying for the fifth starter.
"With the group we have, even minus Carp, we're still good," Westbrook said. "And the kids we have, the ceiling is high. It will be fun to watch."
Until Carpenter went down, the biggest news was first baseman Lance Berkman signing with the Rangers, utility man Skip Schumaker being traded to the Dodgers and the continued free agency of pitcher Kyle Lohse, a 16-game winner last season who has yet to sign.
Also at camp Monday was Matt Carpenter, who is hoping to push Daniel Descalso at second base. Matt Carpenter played five different positions last season and just five games at second base.
"We have young guys who have the opportunity now and I'm excited to watch them compete," Matheny said. "You throw athletes into a situation like this and you put the pressure on, that's usually when they rise to the top."