JUPITER, Fla. • Offering an example of how the Cardinals could stack bats in their regular-season lineup and find slugger Matt Adams ample playing time come April, manager Mike Matheny posted a lineup this morning big on brawn and versatile on position.
There will be days in the regular season when Matheny wants to spell either Matt Holliday (left field) or Carlos Beltran (right field).
The Cardinals don't need to carry an outfielder to sub in.
They have one at first base.
That allows them to carry a first baseman to handle that spot.
The larger jigsaw puzzle of the Cardinals' roster, one way for Adams to fit into the picture is through Allen Craig playing the outfield every so often and Matt Carpenter stapling down his ability to play second base. If both happen, then on days Holliday/Beltran don't play, Craig moves to the corner outfield spots -- positions he's familiar with and comfortable in -- and instead of Carpenter being the obvious stand-in at first base, Adams will be there.
The number of starts a week Adams could get at first base -- his only position, outside of DH when the Cardinals visit American League towns -- will depend on the number of days off the others get.
But there's room. There is room.
The lineup today, chocked with an middle-order offense that includes Taveras in center field, proves that.
Here it is:
1. Daniel Descalso, 3B
2. Matt Carpenter, 2B
3. Matt Holliday, LF
4. Allen Craig, RF
5. Matt Adams, 1B
6. Oscar Taveras, CF
7. Ty Wigginton, DH
8. Tony Cruz, C
9. Ronny Cedeno, SS
Jaime Garcia speeds closer to the regular season with his fourth start of spring training. The lefty is scheduled to have two more after today before, presumably, starting the second game of the season. That would put him on target to start the home opener. Although ... wait a minute ... don't write that down just just ...
As fifth-starter race takes shape, keep in mind that the open day in the first week allows for the Cardinals to skip that starter until the season-opening home stand. That could move Garcia into a start at San Francisco's AT&T Park, where he has a 1.86 ERA in 19 1/3 innings over three starts there. That has not been a place where his road rash has been a concern.
Marc Rzepczynski will return to the mound in a game for the first time since his golf accident. His vision has returned to normal.
Carlos Beltran and Yadier Molina will travel with the victorious Puerto Rico team to San Francisco. However the World Baseball Classic tournament twists from here, they should be back with the Cardinals by the end of the week. The tournament ends March 19.