Matheny anxious to see middle infield competition in games -

Matheny anxious to see middle infield competition in games

JUPITER, Fla. (Baseball STL) -- When all eight everyday spots are pretty much accounted for there isn't going to be a whole lot of drama in a big league spring training.  But, alas, there's always competition.  Even if the biggest competition going on is for a utility spot once held by Daniel Descalso.
Ty Kelly and Dean Anna are two of the players in camp competing for that role.  With Descalso gone (and his ability to play shortstop effectively if needed) Pete Kozma is left as the lone true shortstop if something were to happen to starter Jhonny Peralta.  Greg Garcia is another candidate.
Manager Mike Matheny is well aware what Garcia and Kozma can do.  Both have been with the Cardinals organization for many years now.  They're talents are no secret.  It's figuring out how they compare to those of Kelly and Anna, two guys new to the club, which will factor into who makes the team out of spring training and who does not.
"We'll be able to tell a whole lot more about them once these games start (on Thursday)," Matheny said. "We'll be able to watch them compete at game speed and not just in these drills and live batting practice.  You can see both (Kelly and Anna) are good players and very well rounded."
Some believe among the five perceived openings on the Cardinals bench only three spots are locks.  Catcher Tony Cruz, infielder Mark Reynolds and outfielder Peter Bourjos.  Fellow outfielder Randal Grichuk has to be considered among the favorites for another one - I refuse to believe the Cards would break camp without his power presence off the bench.
That leaves just one - or two if you think Grichuk's at risk for being optioned back to AAA - for the taking.  Kozma's ability to play shortstop so well could be the deciding factor.  However Kelly hit 15 home runs last year for Seattle's AAA affiliate and represents a switch-hitting component no one else offers.  Anna is a former minor league batting champion.
"A lot of that is going to go down to the end of spring when we see the health of everybody and if (there's an issue) where do we need to plug the holes?" Matheny said. "It's going to come down to what's the best fit for this team and we don't know that right now."

It's only March 1.  The Cardinals have more than a month before they have to make these calls. 

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