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St. Louis Cardinals v Chicago White Sox

St. Louis Cardinals' Dexter Fowler hits a two-run home run in the seventh inning during a game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago White Sox at Busch Stadium on Wednesday, May 2, 2018, in St. Louis, Mo. Photo by Chris Lee, clee@post-dispatch.com

QUESTION: What happens if Fowler is hitting under .200 at the close of spring training? Aside from injuries, is this the worst-case-scenario of the spring?

GOOLD: His batting average will be an awful way to judge his spring training — whether it's low or high. I think Rick Hummel put it well in the Best Podcast in Baseball when he said that Fowler has to hit with "authority" this spring, and that his production will be best measured by his timing and how hard he's hitting the ball, not whether he sneaks an 88-hop grounder by the shortstop for a hit or, in your example, doesn't.

Does he walk? Does he drive the ball? Does he move well on the bases and does he look more comfortable in right field? These are the things to watch during spring training -- and if he struggles at these things then the Cardinals aren't going wait for April to come along to give Fowler's ABs to a Jose Martinez or to a Tyler O'Neill, depending on their performance.

I'm having a hard time thinking how anything other than an injury would be the worst-case scenario. Clearly the Cardinals are betting big on Fowler's bounce-back, but they have depth at his position -- and a guy who hit pretty well available for those starts.

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