ST. LOUIS -- With their 2011 roster just about set, the Cardinals are now down to addressing small problems, questions of the tactical and matchup variety. Manager Tony La Russa indicated Sunday that one of those questions might have a surprising answer.
The club has no obvious right-handed backup for center fielder Colby Rasmus. Jon Jay, the other player likely to make the roster who could be a viable center field option, is a left-handed hitter. Allen Craig, Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman do not represent legitimate options in center for the manager.
So, La Russa said on Sunday, he might look to an infielder to fill that role.
Tyler Greene, a speedy shortstop who currently projects as a reserve, utility infielder for the 2011 Cardinals, could see some time in center field in Spring Training. Greene played three innings at the position in 2009, but otherwise has been an infielder throughout his career.
"This guy is a plus talent," La Russa said. "We have had some discussions, because one of the things you would look at would be a right-handed-hitting center fielder. Because there's going to be a day or two where Colby [Rasmus], or anybody, is going to sit. And it probably makes sense for that day to be against a left-hander who's really difficult. So a right-handed-hitting center fielder [would help].
"So we talked about Tyler maybe getting some at-bats out there. Spring Training, we're kind of creative about what we try down there, with a point to make. Nothing crazy. In Tyler's case, you may see him play some center field."
Cards plan to keep Holliday in left
ST. LOUIS -- It has become clearer and clearer that Cardinals manager Tony La Russa has no interest in moving Matt Holliday from left to right field. For his part, Holliday said on Sunday that he's fine either way, but that if he's going to move, he'd like some advance warning.
"I'd like to know," Holliday said. "For repetition's sake."
Holliday told the Cardinals last season that if the club acquired a left fielder, he would be willing to move from his customary spot in left over to right. When Lance Berkman signed with St. Louis as a free agent last month, it appeared that Berkman might well fit that description.
However, La Russa reiterated once again on Sunday that he does not intend to move Holliday. Instead, Berkman will be the team's primary right fielder while Holliday remains in left.
La Russa isn't concerned about Pujols
ST. LOUIS -- Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said on Sunday that he has no worries about possible spill-over from Albert Pujols' contract negotiations.
The club and Pujols' agent, Danny Lozano, have begun discussions on a new pact for the three-time National League Most Valuable Player, though both sides have emphatically avoided giving any play-by-play on the progress. La Russa said on Sunday that even if no new deal is reached, and Pujols enters the season with a contract that ends after 2011, he has no worries about his best player.
"I can't feel better about Albert," La Russa said on Sunday at the Cardinals' annual Winter Warm-Up fan festival. "If he was on a day-to-day contract or a 10-year contract, Albert, he answers to higher motivational powers. And he's going to be ready to play. He's got too much pride. He's too committed. So it's not going to affect Albert at all. My excitement as a manager having Albert on the team has nothing to do with the length of his contract or the size of his contract."
La Russa also said that he's stayed out of the process entirely, not asking either side how things are going.
"In this case here, I am not going to ask ownership and the front office," he said. "I'm not going to ask Albert. I'm not going to say a thing. I know what's going on -- they both want to make a deal. Let them work on it, and when they have some kind of resolution, we'll find out what it is. But I'm not going to ask one question of any of those parties. Just let them go about it."
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Obviously, You're Not a Golfer and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewHLeach. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.