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Cardinals are running wild, for now

JUPITER, Fla. -- The St. Louis Cardinals have stolen 19 bases this spring, more than any team in the major leagues. All that running tends to bring back memories for older fans, who watched three Cardinals teams reach the World Series in the 1980s largely on their speed and aggressive base running.

It's also completely misleading.

Virtually all of those stolen bases have come from players who will begin the season in the minor leagues. The only player projected to make the big league team with more than one steal is Stephen Piscotty with three. Charlie Tilson, who finished last season at Double-A Springfield, leads the team with five.

"There are a whole bunch of Cardinal fans that get so excited every time they see those stolen bases," Matheny said.

The Cardinals stole 69 bases last season, one more than Lonnie Smith stole by himself in 1982 and fewer than all but three National League teams. One speedy young player who did make a good first impression Friday was Magneuris Sierra, a 19-year-old center field prospect who was invited up from minor-league camp.

Sierra went 2-for-4 and stole a base off ex-Cardinal farmhand Tyrell Jenkins. Matheny was more impressed with the base Sierra didn't try to steal, because it hinted at his maturity.

"Just to have that baseball IQ, to have that sense of the game is pretty unique," Matheny said. "We've had a couple kids come up here and they're going. They know they get a bad jump and they're going anyhow."