Good Morning Cardinal Nation! Here’s what I have for you this morning:

PITCHERS & CATCHERS REPORT: Spring Training is finally here. Maybe the games haven’t started, and maybe the Opening Day isn’t for another seven weeks or so, but as far as CardsBlog is concerned, baseball season is here. It has been a long (and quite frankly pretty uneventful) offseason, and I’m as ready as anybody for Cardinals baseball to be back. We more or less took yesterday off to prepare for the coming weeks and the regular season. Though the beginning of this Spring might be overshadowed by the news of Chris Carpenter‘s absence, there are lots of reasons to be excited about this 2013 team, and I could not be more amped to share the season with you. We will be here each and every day, and we hope that you can follow us along for the ride.

HARRIS LOOKS TO IMPRESS: Derrick Goold writes this morning about Mitch Harris, who has yet to throw an official inning for the Cardinals organization five years after being drafted to the Cardinals, on account of his time devoted to the navy. Harris, 28, says though that he hopes to be more than just a story: “… Let’s be honest, there’s no way I could come in as a 28-year-old rookie and think that there is a chance at all. I’ve told myself that my goal is to go out and basically I want to shock people,” says Harris. Well, how could you not want to root for this guy? I’m not sure how much room there is on the roster, but in any case, I will be keeping an eye on him throughout Spring Training. Here is a video of Harris pitching a bullpen session just last week.

MINOR THINGS WILL BE MAJOR FOR MATHENY: Joe Strauss writes this morning about some of the challenges that Mike Matheny will face in his second year as manager. Listen, I’m as optimistic a fan as they come. That doesn’t mean I’m not realistic, but you will notice very quickly this season that I don’t like to dwell on things that have already happened. I’m not going to write every day about the impact that Chris Carpenter not being in the clubhouse will have on the team. We are all well aware of what he brings, and yes, it sucks, but this is the third year in a row that the Cardinals have entered Spring Training losing one of their top-flight starters. Do I need to remind you what they have accomplished the last couple of seasons? I’m not saying ignore it or forget about it, I’m just saying let’s focus our energy elsewhere. As I said earlier, today is one of my favorite days of the baseball year, and I would rather not let the absence of one of my favorite players ruin it.