St. Louis Cardinals Pre-Grapefruit League debut preview

10:35 AM, Feb 23, 2013   |    comments
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(KSDK Sports) -- The most significant storyline for the 2013 Cardinals has been the loss of so much veteran talent. The reasons for the depletion of vets range from free agency - Lance Berkman, Kyle Lohse. Trade - Skip Schumaker, and injury - Chris Carpenter.

So on the eve of the opening of Grapefruit League action, here is how the Cardinals look right now.

Rotation: Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia, Lance Lynn, Jake Westbrook, Shelby Miller, Joe Kelly, Trevor Rosenthal.

The Cardinals did tender a one year offer to free agent Kyle Lohse, but as expected it was rejected. The Cardinals clearly believe they have their five starters in camp right now. Wainwright, Westbrook, Garcia and Lynn appear solid as the club's 1-4.

Adam Wainwright assumes the mantel of staff ace. And he says he has the mental toughness to do the job. "I've got years of advice from Carp on ways to look at yourself and the thought process that goes into being a number one type starter. All those things are kind of clicking right now," said Wainwright.

The storyline throughout the spring will be which young hurler will get the job as the fifth starter. The auditioning process began last season when all three candidates impressed the bosses and Cardinal Nation with their fireballing stuff.
All systems appear to be "go" with Shelby Miller's latest health concern. Earlier this week, Manager Mike Matheny said the Miller was un-available to throw due to tightness and soreness in his throwing shoulder. But the following day, Miller was back on his throwing program, although the Cardinals did announce that Miller would not make his scheduled first start of Spring on Sunday.

Video: Miller's new attitude getting noticed

Joe Kelly says he and Shelby Miller are best friends, but that doesn't mean he isn't going to try to beat him out for the fifth starter job at spring training.

Video: Kelly ready to battle best friend for job

The 24-year-old St. Louis Cardinals right-hander said he was told at the end of the season to be prepared to battle for a starting job and that's exactly what he plans to do.

Kelly and Miller, who were drafted at the same time, have been together since day one of the professional baseball careers. "We do pretty much everything together," Kelly said. "It's going to be a fun time, me against him. There are no hard feelings."

Of the two, Kelly has the edge on experience. Between 16 regular season starts and eight bullpen appearances, Kelly struck out 75 batters and walked 36. While his 3.53 ERA is not the best on the team by any means, it should be remembered that the number reflects a pitcher who bounced between the rotation and the bullpen.

In the 2012 postseason, he showed a grit that numbers have a hard-time illustrating. In seven postseason appearances, Kelly surrendered two runs, both in the same outing. Over that stretch, he faced 34 batters and gave up only six hits.

Kelly said he learned a lot in 2012, but is ready to move forward.
"I don't put emphasis on what I did last year and I know what I have to do to be even better," he said. "I'm going to go out there and compete."

When it counted the most, Trevor Rosenthal arrived in St. Louis and gave fans a glimpse of just how hard he could throw. He appeared in 19 games, all in relief, and pitched 22.2 innings and struck out 25. He was the talk of the town.

It wasn't hard to imagine his 100 mph heater as a signature pitch for a major league closer, but Rosenthal did not come up the ranks as a reliever. He's a starter.

And the fact that Jason Motte is firmly entrenched as the Cardinals closer, gives the Cardinals good reason to try Rosenthal out in his natural position as a starting pitcher. In fact, he'll get his first start at the Major League level this Saturday as the Cardinals open their Grapefruit League season against the Marlins.

Video: Rosenthal all smiles after getting first Spring start

Bullpen: Jason Motte, Edward Mujica, Fernando Salas, Mitchell Boggs, Kelly, Marc Rzepczynski, Eduardo Sanchez, Victor Marte

Presumed Lineup:
CF Jon Jay, RF Carlos Beltran, LF Matt Holliday, 1B Allen Craig, C Yadier Molina, 3B David Freese, SS Rafael Furcal, 2B Matt Carpenter/Daniel Descalso










The Cardinals were relatively quiet on the free agent market this winter. They did make some moves to shore up the bench and infield depth with the signings of Ty Wigginton and Ronny Cedeno. The Cardinals were rumored to have made a run at Marco Scutaro before he re-signed with the Giants.

Other than Wigginton or Cedeno, the only other notable newcomer is lefty specialist Randy Choate.

Video: Choate thrilled to be considered a specialist in STL

The middle infield is a big issue, though, particularly in light of Furcal's ill health. Ideally, Matt Carpenter will prove capable at second base and win the job there.










Video: Matt Carpenter shows us around his new work space

However, if he can't handle the defensive responsibilities, the Cards could be looking at spending big chunks of the season with the light-hitting Descalso covering one spot and Cedeno, Kozma and Ryan Jackson vying for the other.

At third base, Freese also has an extensive injury history, and while Carpenter is a fine fallback there, he can't play second if he's starting at the hot corner.

With spring training games having even yet to start, the Cardinals' depth has been whittled away. If it stops now, the team is still in very good position, particularly since it should have plenty of flexibility to pull off in-season trades.

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