JUPITER, Fla. -- It's taken Cardinals fans a little longer than they'd probably like to see their brand new center fielder diving for fly balls in the outfield but today, assuming anything is hit to him, they'll get that chance.
Peter Bourjos returns from a few day absence stemming from a hamstring pull to lead off and play center this afternoon in Viera against the Nationals. The former Angel, acquired in the David Freese trade this past offseason, is competing with Jon Jay for at-bats between Matt Holliday and Allen Craig in the outfield.
Here's Mike Matheny's starting lineup that he'll take with him to Space Coast Stadium:
1) Peter Bourjos - CF
2) Kolten Wong - 2B
3) Allen Craig - DH
4) Scott Moore - 1B
5) Shane Robinson - RF
6) Daniel Descalso - 3B
7) Joey Butler - LF
8) Tony Cruz - C
9) Pete Kozma - SS
Joe Kelly makes his second start of spring training as he competes with Carlos Martinez for the final spot in the Cards starting rotation. He'll be relieved by Seth Maness, Eric Fornataro, Jorge Rondon, Angel Castro, Sam Gaviglio and Boone Whiting.
-- Kelly's second start needs to be better than his first one. As someone who is in a legitimate competition for a starting spot, with the loser likely headed to the bullpen, Kelly has to be better than the "so-so" debut he made last week in Lakeland. It's been said before the decision between him and Martinez won't 100 percent come down to who is better here in spring training, likely how the bullpen shapes up and who's a better fit for it could be a factor, but performance means something. The guy who gets this assignment takes the ball every fifth day and has as much to say in whether the Cardinals win or lose as Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha and Shelby Miller this season. Martinez has the potential. Kelly has incumbency. There aren't too many starts left after this before the Cardinals need to make some sort of decision.
-- Kolten Wong is going to try and build off the big game he had Friday in Port St. Lucie when he got his first three hits of spring training. Mike Matheny had said previously that Wong (0-10 before Friday) was pressing and needed to relax. Then after getting three hits Matheny said he wanted Wong to relax because that's what he's supposed to do. He didn't want him to relax because he had three hits. It's a delicate balance between caring the right amount and caring too much. The Cardinals need Kolten Wong to be the starting second baseman at some point. He's the only person that offers a true top of the order bat that can get on base and steal. Wong eventually could hit first with Matt Carpenter sliding to second where his pop could be more dangerous.