Chase Pinder has started the season in blazing fashion, hitting .353 with a pair of home runs and seven runs scored from the Springfield Cardinals’ leadoff position.
That’s all well and good, but after what Pinder has been through the last two years, forgive the center fielder if he’s not planning a celebratory parade just yet.
“I honestly haven’t been thinking about it too much,” Pinder said prior to Tuesday night’s game at Hammons Field against Tulsa, the opener of a six-game Texas League Double-A homestand.
“The biggest thing is I’m healthy, for sure, but I just feel confident at the plate,” Pinder added. “I’m playing carefree and that usually leads to success for people.”
Pinder, 26, was a seventh-round draft selection by the Cardinals in 2017 out of Clemson University. The Virginia native hit .320 in rookie ball at Johnson City that summer, but has not played more than 89 games in any season due to injuries — and zero games in 2020 when minor league baseball was canceled due to COVID-19.
Pinder built an in-home gym back in Virginia and took swings at a batting cage in his dad’s backyard.
“It definitely was a tough year, just like it was for everyone,” Pinder said.
Last year was especially brutal for Pinder as he was limited to 23 games and 64 at-bats. After a lengthy recovery from a quad injury, he came down with COVID.
“I got hurt in the first week and spent a lot of time out,” Pinder said. “Now, I’m ready to stay healthy and get a good opportunity.”
Now it’s so far, so good for Pinder, who is the younger brother of Oakland Athletics’ infielder Chad Pinder (the Texas League most valuable player with Midland in 2015).
Cardinals manager Jose Leger said Pinder’s offseason training program has him noticeably stronger and it’s paying off with results.
“He’s been hurt and that’s one thing that has prevented him from being on the field,” Leger said. “He prepared himself really well and got his body ready and strong for the season.
“Right now, he is receiving a good opportunity at the leadoff spot and is making the most out of it.”
Along with being rejuvenated physically, Pinder feels a positive vibe mentally as well. He started the 2022 season as a father for the first time and said it shines a new light on his life.
“I play for my daughter now,” Pinder said of Charlotte, who turns one on May 20. Charlotte and Pinder’s wife, Taylor, came to Springfield for the season-opening series.
“Taylor is a gymnastics coach back in Virginia and gets a week off at a time,” Pinder said. “They’ll be able to come out here and visit, here and there. Hopefully more than some might think.”
Players to watch
- Cardinals right fielder Moises Gomez, a free-agent signing last November, began the homestand as the Texas League home-run leader with six. He was named Texas League player of the week. “Sometimes when you’re hot, you’re hot and he’s hitting the wall really well right now,” Leger said.
- Left-handed pitcher Domingo Robles threw eight shutout innings, allowing only an infield hit, in the series finale at Arkansas on Saturday. Leger said Robles needed only 94 pitches and the lone hit could have been ruled an error. Freddy Pacheco completed the one-hit shutout. Robles is scheduled to pitch again on Saturday,
- Right-hander Connor Lunn (0-1, 3.97 earned run average) is the scheduled starting pitcher when Springfield faces Tulsa in Game Two of the series at 6:35 p.m. tonight (April 20).
The Springfield Cardinals are facing the Tulsa Drillers in a six-game homestand, which continues through Sunday. A look at results, game times and promotions:
- Tuesday — Tulsa defeated Springfield 4-2. Moises Gomez and Pedro Pages had two hits apiece for the Cardinals.
- Wednesday, April 20, 6:35 p.m. — Purina Woof Wednesday.
- Thursday, April 21, 6:35 p.m. — Thirsty Thursday with drink specials for fans 21 and over on adult beverages all game.
- Friday, April 22, 6:35 p.m. — Fans-On-Field Friday Fireworks / Specialty Camo Jersey Auction begins.
- Saturday, April 23, 5:35 p.m. — Infuze Credit Union & Fort Leonard Wood Military Appreciation Night / Military Appreciation Fireworks Celebration / Specialty Camo Jersey Auction ends.
- Sunday, April 24, 1:35 p.m. — Hiland Dairy Ice Cream Sunday / MOST 529 Kids Run the Bases.
Tickets: Call 417-863-0395 or visit the Cardinals box office at Hammons Field