Pitchers and catchers for the St. Louis Cardinals reported to spring training in Jupiter, Fla., on Monday. The first workout took place Tuesday.
The first full squad workout is scheduled for Friday.
Like every other team in the Major League Baseball, the Cardinals have questions that need to be answered this spring.
Things haven’t started well for the home team with the loss of starting pitcher Chris Carpenter, who has apparent circulation problems that left his pitching hand in pain.
Carpenter, 37 years of age, held a press conference Monday in St. Louis at which time he refused to say that he was retiring.
While you can never count out a warrior like Carpenter, you have to think this might be the end of the road.
“Maybe I don’t ever want it to end,” Carpenter said in a story by the Associated Press. “I don’t think I’ll ever retire, to be honest with you. I’ll never say that word. There might always be hope. Maybe like when I’m 48 I can come back and pitch some more.”
I wouldn’t put that past him, but what are the Cardinals supposed to do for the next 11 years?
As spring training opens, the Cardinals have one ace, Adam Wainwright, and even his health has been somewhat dicey at times.
So who is the No. 2 pitcher on the staff?
Jaime Garcia has shoulder issues. Will he even be ready when the season begins?
While Jake Westbrook has been effective at times, will the 35-year-old be able to hold up during an entire season?
Wait until you see Lance Lynn. He dropped 40 pounds during the offseason. You’ll barely recognize him.
If Wainwright, Garcia, Westbrook and Lynn all are healthy, they are four of your five starting pitchers.
So who takes Carpenter’s spot in the rotation.
The good news is the Cardinals have a full arsenal of young, talented right-handed flame throwers.
The top three candidates appear to be Joe Kelly, Shelby Miller and Trevor Rosenthal.
My pick, at least for now, is for Kelly to take the spot.
Kelly has a good amount of experience in the Cardinals rotation. He’s had some solid games. The moment won’t be too big for him.
Miller doesn’t have as much big league experience. Everyone wants to see him pitch, but it’s probably best for him, at least for now, to be a spot starter and work from the bullpen.
Rosenthal has electric stuff. He routinely hits triple digits on the radar gun. One day, he’s going to be a key pitcher in the Cardinals starting rotation.
This season, I would prefer to see Rosenthal in the bullpen. He was great in that role during last year’s postseason.
Just think of the Cardinals potential bullpen from the sixth inning on.
Manager Mike Matheny can go with Edward Mujica in the sixth inning, Rosenthal in the seventh, Mitchell Boggs in the eighth and Jason Motte in the ninth. And you still have Miller at your disposal.
For matchup situations, you can throw in southpaws Marc Rzepczynski, Randy Choate and maybe even Sam Freeman.
Game, set, match.
On paper, the Cardinals bullpen is the strength of the team.
For me, the biggest question as spring training begins is the starting rotation. Any injuries will force someone from the bullpen to the rotation.
Pitching is not the only question mark on this team.
Will Rafael Furcal be healthy enough to play shortstop? If not, I’m not sure Pete Kozma is an every day player.
And who in the world is going to play second base? Daniel Descalso? Matt Carpenter? Or maybe even Kolten Wong?
In the outfield, Carlos Beltran probably won’t be able to play a full season because injuries likely will arrive. Matt Holliday and Jon Jay need to stay healthy.
I’m anxious to see young gun Oscar Taveras, who many say is a future star.
There are plenty of questions concerning the Cardinals. Spring training will provide the answers.