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WHEELER: Notes From Jupiter: Cardinals Back To Work

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After an off day yesterday the Cardinals return to action today with a 12:05 CT first pitch against the Marlins here at Roger Dean Stadium…

Jake Westbrook makes the start and he’ll be followed by Trevor Rosenthal. It will be interesting to see how Rosenthal progresses in what will be his third outing of the spring. He and Shelby Miller appear to be slotted in slightly behind Joe Kelly at this point based on the fact that Kelly is starting every 5th game down here and that those guys are coming on in relief. Make no mistake, Rosenthal and Miller are being prepped as starters. They’re just following other starters in game action – Rosenthal follows Westbrook and Miller follows Wainwright.

It would also make sense for Kelly to lead the race at this early stage because he has significant edge when it comes to big league experience. He appeared in 16 regular season games last year, starting 10 of them, while logging 107 innings. Rosenthal made a big impact in the playoffs coming out of the bullpen but still only had 22 2/3 innings in 19 appearances without any starts at the big league level. Miller appeared in 6 games last year, starting 1 of them, in putting up 13 2/3 innings. So Kelly clearly has an edge when it comes to experience.

Keep in mind, however, that the Cardinals will likely use more than one of those guys in that rotation spot this year. Kelly did wind up pitching 179 1/3 innings last year, the highest of his career, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that 200 innings is in the offing. The team may need to use the entire group to get 32-33 starts out of that 5th spot. We shall see.

Here are some brief thoughts from Mike Matheny in advance of today’s game…

* Nothing new to report on Rafael Furcal just yet but he is meeting with Dr. James Andrews today.

* David Freese isn’t going to play today as he gets a little more rest. He bruised his tailbone in the game on Monday but, as Matheny said, with so much time to go before the start of the season a little extra rest makes sense. Matheny did also say that Freese would be out there if this were the regular season.

*Allen Craig is closer to playing in the field. His shoulder has been bothering him a bit so he’s been serving as the DH in games and hasn’t played the field. He has been throwing, though, and is close to being ready.

* Matheny also talked about Matt Adams, saying he has nothing left to prove in the minors. His exact quote was that Adams can “flat out hit” and said he could handle big league work this year for sure. It’s just a matter of what will be best for the team, having him on the bench or having him play everyday at Triple-A to keep him ready in case they need him to be a regular.

Don’t forget the Hot Stove League Show tonight from 7-9 PM…you’ll hear from Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright, who joins us for a couple of segments, Shelby Miller talks about his growth over the last 12 months and we’ll have our weekly chats with Mike Shannon and John Rooney as well…

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