Cardinals Caravan players recall a magical fall

Tuesday, January 17, 2012
The St. Louis Cardinals Tyler Greene autographs a baseball for Carter Crosnoe Monday evening, January 16, 2012 at the Osage Centre in Cape Girardeau. (Laura Simon)

The echoes of the St. Louis Cardinals' magical run to capture the 2011 World Series traveled far beyond the players on the active roster.

That was evident Monday night at the Cardinals Caravan at the Osage Centre.

Each of the four visiting players had unique perspectives on the Cardinals' roller coaster postseason that ended in the club's 11th World Series championship.

"It was crazy," Cardinals infielder Tyler Greene said. "It was so surreal that it happened, and the way it happened. The way we had that comeback in Game 6 twice -- there was just that confidence that we knew we were going to win it type of a thing. We knew that it didn't matter what was going to happen. At some point before the end of the game we were going to be ahead and win. It was just one of those amazing things."

Greene made several appearances with the Cardinals throughout the regular season but was not included on the World Series roster. The infielder watched the action from the dugout, somehow managing to keep his emotions in check.

"I think everybody was able to bear down and finish the game first and realize if we just played through the rest of the game and do what we were supposed to do, that we would win and then be able to let the celebration begin," Greene said.

Two of the other visiting Cardinals weren't as lucky to have a seat in the dugout like Greene, but they still were glued to the action.

Ryan Jackson, a 23-year old shortstop who spent most of his 2011 season playing for the Class AA Springfield Cardinals, was in Arizona where he played for the Peoria Javelinas in the Arizona Fall League.

"It was me, David Kopp and Matt Adams in the apartment watching the game, and we were going pretty wild," Jackson said.

Kopp, a pitcher, and Adams, an infielder, also are Cardinals prospects.

Although the up-and-coming shortstop didn't catch the action from the field, he certainly felt a part of it.

"It's huge because even when I was with Springfield we had Nick Punto and Allen Craig and some of those guys come down in rehab, and you develop a personal relationship with those guys," Jackson said. "So when you're watching them play, you're rooting for them. You definitely feel part of it a little bit even though you're not really playing."

The other infielder in town was Pete Kozma, the Cardinals' first-round draft pick in 2007.

Kozma played 16 games with St. Louis last season but spent the majority of the season at Class AAA Memphis.

"I was just watching it at home with my friends," Kozma said. "I played with some of them through the year. I mean, I was probably one of their biggest fans watching them -- a lot of emotions going through my mind."

Kozma and Jackson are both ready for a chance to earn a spot on the major league roster in 2012.

"It's definitely exciting," Kozma said. "I'm definitely ready to go, and this helps it seeing all these fans getting ready for the season."

Both will have a shot in February, when spring training begins.

"That's everything you play for," Jackson said. "As a minor league player, you're in spring training and you're looking over at the big league side, and you're like, ‘Man I want to be over there.' When you get a chance to go into that clubhouse and be in big league camp ... for me at the least, as a young minor league player, it's one of the best calls I've ever gotten besides being drafted."

Pitcher Lance Lynn was a key participant in the World Series, and he even got a win out of the bullpen in Game 3.

Lynn also pitched a scoreless eighth inning for St. Louis in Game 7, coaxing Josh Hamilton into a grounder to second, getting Michael Young to pop up to first, and fanning Adrian Beltre.

"The only thing I could think of was the first batter I was going to face," Lynn said. "Who I was facing and how I was going to get him out. That's all I concentrated on. Once I got him out I went on to the next hitter. The luxury that you have as a pitcher is you can only play one pitch at a time, so that's the way you have to think about it, and I was able to think about it in that way so nothing was overwhelming at all."

Lynn certainly was ready for the call.

"Before that, as the game was going on, I was just hoping I got the opportunity to pitch," Lynn said. "Once I got the opportunity to pitch and got through my inning, I was just hoping for the best thru on out. We were in a groove there without giving up any runs. It wasn't quite as uneasy as the night before. It was fun just sitting there taking it all in and trying to get one out at a time and trying not to freak out."

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