JUPITER, Fla. -- David Freese's strong and healthy spring has caused Cardinals manager Tony La Russa to adjust his regular-season projections for the third baseman.

Before Grapefruit League games started, La Russa estimated that Freese would play two out of every three games during the regular season, and that 110 total games during the season would be a good outcome for Freese. However, on Saturday La Russa expressed a more optimistic take.

"I think it's very likely that as you get into the season and he really gets comfortable and strong, he may [only] need one game off a week," La Russa said.

Freese is returning from surgery on both of his ankles last year.

Cardinals set up rotation for next week

JUPITER, Fla. -- The Cardinals have set their rotation for the next week-plus, giving a likely look at how the club's starting five will shake out for the beginning of the regular season as well. St. Louis will adjust the order of its pitchers slightly following Tuesday's off-day, the Redbirds' only open date of the Grapefruit League season.

Kyle McClellan and Chris Carpenter remain on turn for Sunday and Monday, respectively, but after that, McClellan will not pitch for a week. Jake Westbrook will start Wednesday at home against the Mets on five days' rest. He'll be followed by Jaime Garcia and Kyle Lohse, each also pitching on the extra day of rest. Carpenter will go on his normal four days' rest on Saturday, March 26, putting him on turn to pitch Opening Day on March 31, and McClellan's next start will be March 27.

Thus, it's likely that Westbrook would pitch on March 28 and then in the team's second game on April 2. Garcia would either pitch in the final Grapefruit League game on March 29 or in the team's exhibition against its Double-A Springfield affiliate, followed by the third game of the regular season on April 3. Lohse and McClellan would pitch along with Carpenter in the regular season's second series, at home against Pittsburgh.

Lohse delivers another strong start

JUPITER, Fla. -- Another start, another five strong innings for Kyle Lohse.

The right-hander made it four excellent starts in as many opportunities when he stifled the Marlins on Saturday in a 5-4 loss. He allowed a run on seven hits, striking out three without a walk. Lohse has yet to allow a free pass this spring as he revels in feeling fully healthy for the first time in nearly two years.

"I'm more comfortable knowing where the ball is going," said Lohse, who dealt with a forearm injury and its aftereffects from May of 2009 through the 2010 season. "Before, if I fell behind someone, I didn't really have anywhere to go, because I felt like I was throwing a really sloppy slider and a changeup that wasn't really that sharp. It's not an easy way to pitch, when you're not commanding anything."

Lohse has one more Grapefruit League start, on Friday against Washington. Then on March 30, he'll get in some sort of simulated or Minor League game in Florida before making his regular-season debut on April 4 against Pittsburgh.

Motte trying to do too much on the hill

JUPITER, Fla. -- Jason Motte is searching a bit as Spring Training enters its final 10 days.

Motte surrendered three runs (two earned) in one-third of an inning on Saturday as the Cardinals watched a 4-1 lead turn into a 5-4 deficit. He walked two without striking out a batter, and has been scored upon in three of his past six outings. Motte has four walks against four strikeouts this spring, a distinctly uncharacteristic ratio.

"I'm out there trying to do too much," he said. "I'm trying to get up there and do everything. I'm trying to ... I think I'm just trying to do too much. I'm trying to throw my two-seamer perfect, throw everything perfect."

He referred to "babying" his two-seam fastball by trying to locate it to too specific a location. That's an issue Motte made a point of trying to avoid early in the spring. Motte insisted that he's healthy, as did manager Tony La Russa and pitching coach Dave Duncan.

"He's working on it," Duncan said. "It's improving all the time. He's making progress. ... He's got a little inconsistency right now, but I'm not concerned about it at the present time."

Cards have two spots to fill in bullpen

JUPITER, Fla. -- As the Cardinals look to fill the final two spots in their 2011 bullpen, it won't simply be a matter of finding the best two pitchers.

That will matter, obviously. But it won't be the only factor. The types of skill sets will matter as well. At least one of the two pitchers, ideally, will be capable of going more than one inning at a time.

Five relievers would seem to be set on the roster: closer Ryan Franklin; right-handed setup men Jason Motte and Mitchell Boggs; and lefty specialists Trever Miller and Brian Tallet. Two jobs are yet to be won, though Miguel Batista may be secure in one of those openings. Batista has been a starter in the past, and could conceivably be a long reliever, but it does not seem the Cardinals are projecting him that way.

Other candidates for the openings include Fernando Salas, who is likely the other favorite, Bryan Augenstein, Eduardo Sanchez and perhaps others. Of those, only Augenstein is really suited to be a long reliever, something that could greatly strengthen his case.

"It's a combination," manager Tony La Russa said Saturday. "You've got to see how the bullpen complements itself, definitely. You have to fill as many roles as possible. Sometimes you don't fill them all.


Among the players on the Cardinals' Sunday travel roster to play the Red Sox in Fort Myers, Fla., are Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday, Colby Rasmus, David Freese and Yadier Molina. ... Manager Tony La Russa said Saturday that Gerald Laird will likely not start until Wednesday, after the Cardinals' off-day. Laird is battling some left hamstring tightness and could play if needed, but the manager prefers to be cautious at this point. ... Lance Berkman appeared to pull up sore on a sixth-inning groundout in the Cardinals' loss to the Astros in Kissimmee, Fla., on Saturday. However, he was moving better later in the day and downplayed the issue after the game.

Weather report: It's looking like another near-perfect day for baseball on Sunday. The forecast in Fort Myers calls for game-time temperatures in the low-80s, no clouds and no chance of rain.