Goldschmidt draws ovations, goes hitless in Cards debut

JUPITER, Fla. (AP) — In his first at-bat in a St. Louis uniform, Paul Goldschmidt nearly showed the pop missing from last year’s Cardinals lineup.

After getting a standing ovation Sunday from many Cardinals fans in the spring training crowd, Goldschmidt launched a long flyball that Washington right fielder Chuck Taylor caught on the warning track.

“I hit it decent but that’s probably about what I expected — to the warning track or just before,” Goldschmidt said. “It was a decent swing. He made a good pitch.”

Though appreciative of the crowd response, Goldschmidt focused more on his pre-pitch routine.

“I did notice a little bit but you’re in there to compete,” Goldschmidt said. “I was just in there getting ready for that at-bat and trying to find a way to get on.”

Goldschmidt’s teammates were aware, too, there was a buzz in the stands for the newcomer.

“They’re the best fans in baseball for a reason and they recognize great players,” third baseman Matt Carpenter said. “They’re as excited as we are to have a guy like Paul around. They showed it today and will show it even more when we strap it on at Busch for the first time.”

Acquired from Arizona in an offseason trade, Goldschmidt hit third, behind Carpenter and Dexter Fowler. It’s a top three that manager Mike Shildt intends to pair together early in Grapefruit League play.

“It was good to see to him in there — the presence,” Shildt said. “It’s just great to have that name in that lineup.”

Goldschmidt, a six-time All-Star first baseman who hit 209 homers in eight seasons with Arizona, struck out swinging in his second at-bat before exiting.

While Goldschmidt made his debut in a Cardinals uniform, pitcher Michael Wacha took the mound for St. Louis the first time since a June oblique injury prematurely ended his season last year. He owned an 8-2 record with a 3.20 ERA at the time of the injury.

An All-Star in 2015 and the 2013 NL Championship Series MVP, Wacha allowed one run on one hit and a walk, striking out a batter. He threw 15 of 26 pitches for strikes during two innings of work.

“It was good to get back out on the mound,” Wacha said. “It was a lot of fun to get back out there competing again and feeling healthy, for sure.”

The lone hit Wacha allowed came on a line drive by Andrew Stevenson that froze Fowler in right field, ultimately sailing over his head for a double.

“It took off,” Fowler said, “That ball was crushed.”