JUPITER, Fla. • With Pete Kozma in place as the Cardinals’ starting shortstop to open the regular season, the competition turns to finding his backup.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said his bench must have at least one additional player who can play shortstop in a pinch and that a third infielder with more extensive shortstop experience would be available from Class AAA Memphis.
Daniel Descalso made his first start of spring training at shortstop, showing his range as an infielder by returning to a position where he started 20 times last season.
Ronny Cedeno, a former everyday shortstop for the Pirates, started at third. Descalso’s proficiency at shortstop – in addition to his potential starts at second base – would satisfy the team’s need for a backup and clarify Cedeno’s competition with Matt Adams for the last spot on the big-league bench.
“We’ll continue to watch him and see how he fits in,” Matheny said in reference to Cedeno, who signed a one-year, $1.15 million contract in January. “That’s one of the things we have – we have some depth and versatility.”
Descalso was tested early in his first start at shortstop, fielding a ricochet off Cedeno’s glove for the rare 5-6-4-3 double play. Descalso was part of both double plays turned by the Cardinals in their 3-2 loss to the Mets.
“It’s nice to get out there in a game,” Descalso said. “I could get a couple more in (at shortstop) before we leave because it’s better to do that now than to try in April with my last start there coming in September.”