Catching Up With The Cardinals, Thursday Edition

David Freese lending a hand yesterday. (Photo: Cardinals Facebook page)

Winter may have officially just started, but there are bright spots on the horizon: the days will slowly start to get longer now and spring training inches closer all the time.

In fact, there are now only 58 days until the St. Louis Cardinals pitchers and catchers report to spring training!

Hey, that number is better than it was.

If you’re in mood for baseball (and who isn’t?) Fox Sports Midwest has a nice present for us all: a Cardinals Christmas Day Marathon on Sunday starting at 1 p.m. Included are new interview specials with Tony La Russa and David Freese, followed by Game 6 of the World Series at 2:30 p.m. and Game 7 of the World Series at 8 p.m. Find complete details here. (And watching Game 7 on Christmas night sounds much better than watching my now poor and pathetic Bears playing the Packers at the very same time …)

Speaking of David Freese, he spent time yesterday helping out at Operation Food Search in University City, Mo., yesterday — as pictured above. And I saw many Twitter comments expressing thanks he made it through all that heavy lifting uninjured. Stay safe, Dave!

The giving spirit also was with now former Cardinal Edwin Jackson. Yesterday in Columbus, Ga., he hosted “100 Bikes for the Holidays” t0 help out families in need this Christmas season. It wasn’t just a giveaway, though, as kids receiving the bikes needed to sign a pledge form “promising to perform well and be a good student, community leader and, most importantly, stay away from drugs.” It’s been an eventful time for Edwin this year. Not only is he obviously now a World Series champion, but he also became a father for the first time on Nov. 29. Awwww! Congrats!

Yesterday the Cardinals also signed two minor-league free agents, as Derrick Goold reported: outfielder Eugenio Velez and left-handed pitcher R.J. Swindle. The details:

Velez, OF: A switch-hitter who appeared in the majors with the Dodgers in 2011 (he went 0-for-37), Velez is batting .250/.336/.370 in 108 at-bats in the Dominican. Last season for the Dodgers’ affiliate, Velez hit .339/.371/.463 with two homers, 31 RBIs and 33 runs in 55 games.

Swindle, LHP: The lefty last appeared in the majors with Milwaukee in 2009. This winter, he’s 0-2 with a 6.43 ERA in three games (two starts) and seven innings in Mexico. Swindle has seven strikeouts and four walks. In Tampa Bay’s system last summer, Swindle was 2-0 with a 4.15 ERA in 39 games. In 34 2/3 innings, the lefty struck out 36 and walked 17 while holding opponents to a .205 average.

So, did you catch that number for Velez — 0 for 37 with the Dodgers this year?!?! Yeah. You can read a very entertaining perspective on Mr. Velez and his 0 for 2011 and check out just what his OPS+ was this season (he did walk a couple of times, after all) here at A Blog of Her Own.

And, after that, what else can be said?

Christine Coleman is the senior St. Louis Cardinals reporter for Aaron Miles’ Fastball. Follow her on Twitter, @CColeman802, or email Also follow @AMilesFastball for the latest updates.

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