Cardinals' top two relievers not buddy-buddy as they try to navigate generation gap

null Baseball Bud Norris could have thrown these bouquets toward fellow Cardinals relief pitcher Jordan Hicks in comments published Wednesday in The Athletic:"The kid's got a tremendous arm." (Hicks' fastball frequently reaches 105 mph.) "He's going to be a big part of this bullpen down the stretch." (Hicks has earned high-leverage opportunities thanks to said fastball.)"He has a chance to do a lot in this game." (He's a rookie who'll turn 22 on Sept. 6.) FLASHBACK: On Norris' barbs toward players of colorHe didn't, at least not in the finished product of veteran scribe Mark Saxon. In their place were thorns and thistles:  "He's learning. He’s admitting when he’s wrong and he’s admitting when he’s right. We’re working together, but he still has a lot to learn on the pitching side, on the professional side of things, how to hold himself accountable for some things and just being a pro, coming to work every day and being ready to work, doing the little things, because they add up in the long run.”Norris didn't offer specifics, because doing so would make him a bad teammate, but Saxon noted that the Cards were displeased with Hicks' work habits in spring training yet still brought him north because he could throw 100-plus. Enter Norris to be a helicopter mentor as part of his assigned role as bullpen hall monitor.Does Hicks think he'll eventually get anything out of this constant attention?"I have no idea. No comment," he told Saxon.FAGAN: Hicks' 105 mph heater an amazing moment Hicks could have at least played the willing pupil and tossed these bouquets:"I appreciate that a guy who has done a lot in this game is teaching me what he knows." (Norris has close to 10 years i

n the majors and is enjoying a career renaissance as a closer.)"I'm glad the club feels confident enough to let me pitch important innings." (As mentioned, Cards brass can't ignore that arm.) "I hope I can be a big part of things in the future." (St. Louis will have at least five more years of contractual control of Hicks after 2018.)Instead, he let his reticence do the talking.MORE: Hicks adjusts to big leagues, bullpen workSaxon reported that Hicks has objected in private to Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, who is Team Bud. Matheny, after all, is the one who asked Norris to kick ass and take names with Hicks and the entire 'pen."He's a stickler for what we established early on," Matheny told Saxon.You can bet that a nonzero amount of Cardinals fans will read that quote and offer these pointed responses:"Hey, Mike, about being a stickler for fundamentals, too?" (The Cardinals' infield defense and baserunning have been poor going on two seasons.)"How about not alienating guys like Hicks and Dexter Fowler, Mike?" (Put it this way: Fowler wasn't making a statement to the White Sox on Tuesday when he took a few extra seconds to round the bases on his grand slam against them.)MORE: Fowler, Matheny barely speak, according to reportThe Cardinals like to get in people's faces (theirs and others') about playing the right way. It appears Matheny, as a devotee and leader, frowns upon his kids talking when they should be listening and not appreciating the hard lessons. "I think the game has progressively gotten a little softer," Matheny told Saxon. "Man, it had some teeth not that long ago."That's an unintentionally funny line from someone who, when he was playing for the Brewers, was hit in the mouth by a pitch and barely flinched.That toughness was required of him in the '90s. A return to such a mindset will not, it appears, begin with a fireballing rookie who's chafing at a veteran who accepted a dirty job.