Mike Matheny is wasting no time getting his regulars in game action this spring. He kicks off Grapefruit League by playing all but two of his projected starters.
The Cards lineup vs 2013 NL Rookie of the Year Jose Fernandez:
1) Matt Carpenter - 3B
2) Kolten Wong - 2B
3) Allen Craig - RF
4) Matt Adams - 1B
5) Yadier Molina - DH
6) Peter Bourjos - CF
7) Shane Robinson - LF
8) Tony Cruz - C
9) Pete Kozma - SS
Carlos Martinez will start on the mound with Tyler Lyons expected to be the first arm in relief. Both will throw around 40 pitches. 2013 1st round draft pick Marco Gonzales leads a group that is available after that. Others include Jorge Rondon, Keith Butler and Pat Neshek.
-- It’s noteworthy that not only is Kolten Wong getting the start here at Roger Dean Stadium but he’s hitting second. I have very little doubt Mike Matheny is trying to get as many at-bats for the young second baseman as he possibly can. When the Cardinals traded David Freese this offseason and said Matt Carpenter would be moving back to third base, his natural position, they insisted Wong would get every opportunity to win the starting job at second.
Even with the signing of veteran Mark Ellis, whose salary suggests he’ll be more than just a backup, the Cardinals are bullish on getting their former 1st rounder on the field. He provides an element of speed this organization sorely lacks. He hits and has surprising gap-to-gap power for his size. Today’s first test against such a dominant pitcher in Jose Fernandez will provide a clue as to how Wong stacks up against the best.
-- Also of note, Peter Bourjos starts in center field over Jon Jay. Now, to be clear, I’m in no way suggesting who starts these games is an indication as to who is going to start once the regular season begins. But it does provide a clue as to what the team is thinking right now. Fernandez is a very tough righty. Normally, you’d think the Cardinals would try and get a lefty in there to face him. But instead the right-handed hitting Bourjos is in there. Not to mention the fact Matt Holliday isn’t playing today and righty Shane Robinson gets the start at that spot (I’m a little surprised Oscar Taveras isn’t playing there). How many chances will Jon Jay get this spring? What does the organization truly feel about him? These are questions we’ll find out the answer to as time goes on.
-- And as we’re going to be talking about for quite some time here in Jupiter, the competition for the final spot in the starting rotation will be in full swing today. Each time Carlos Martinez or Joe Kelly is on the mound, the Cards are one step closer to making their decision. Who pitches better will only go so far. That’s because other factors on the team could factor into who is needed where the most. But those guys’ performances are crucial in determining what role they’ll have. Until Mike Matheny announces his starting rotation in March, all bets are off.