ST. LOUIS -- Hours before taking the field against the New England Patriots on Saturday night, Tim Tebow found himself the center of discussion in the Cardinals' interview room. Yes, these days it seems as if there is no setting that the Broncos quarterback can't effectively infiltrate.
Putting his Southeastern Conference allegiance aside, Adam Wainwright spent several minutes expressing his admiration for Tebow, particularly for the fearless the University of Florida product shows in expressing his religious faith in a public forum.
"I am obsessed with Tim Tebow," Wainwright said. "I'm not afraid to say it. It's almost embarrassing to us athletes that this much emphasis is put on Tim Tebow because that means we aren't living our lives as we should. If we did that more often, the way he is living wouldn't be as big a story. I'm so proud of him for living out his faith."
A devout Christian himself, Wainwright went so far as to call Tebow his favorite athlete.
"Tim Tebow is such a great role model," Wainwright said. "I feel like he's the face of sports right now, and rightfully so. He gives the whole nation something to believe in. It's a story of hope."
Carpenter working hard to maintain strength
ST. LOUIS -- Unfazed with the heavy workload he carried in 2011, Cardinals starter Chris Carpenter has progressed through this offseason like any other. That meant making no substantial changes to his routine and beginning his throwing program almost immediately after the start of the new year.
His initial assessment on the whole process? All is just fine.
"I feel good," said Carpenter, who tossed a combined 273 1/3 regular season and postseason innings last year. "I have worked my butt off, and I'm going to continue to work my butt off. That's why I train the way I do, so I can throw those innings and recover properly."
Still, the workload Carpenter undertook last season is uncharted territory for the 14-year veteran, and it has left some curious to see how Carpenter, who will be 37 in April, will bounce back. There remains the possibility that St. Louis will tread a little more carefully with Carpenter's innings during Spring Training. But any changes in Carpenter's routine between now and Opening Day should be nothing more than minor tweaks.
In addition to providing an update on his own offseason work, Carpenter also took some time on Saturday to speak more broadly about the organization's offseason transition. He endorsed Mike Matheny as a more-than-capable replacement for Tony La Russa, and he noted that Derek Lilliquist's transition into the pitching coach role should be fairly seamless given how long he has been in the organization.
Carpenter also addressed the departure of Albert Pujols, noting that the first baseman had the prerogative to make what he felt was the best decision for his future and his family.
"Losing Albert is a big thing, but that is the game. It is what it is," Carpenter said. "The things he brought to this organization and this community [are] enormous. He should be praised for that and not beat up for that. Hopefully they'll welcome him back at some point in time."
Greene looks to have lock on second base
ST. LOUIS -- While the Cardinals have not yet named a starting second baseman, general manager John Mozeliak certainly hinted that the job is Tyler Greene's to lose. Daniel Descalso remains in the mix, too, though Descalso could fit well as a utility infielder off the bench if Greene does end up seizing the starting job.
"We do want to see Tyler Greene get a strong opportunity [at second base]," Mozeliak said. "We look at his athleticism and what he's capable of doing [and] seeing that for a large volume or 150 games would be interesting to us."
Though Greene has never thrived at the big league level, he's also never had much consistent playing time to prove himself. Injuries gave Greene the opportunity to make a string of starts for St. Louis last May, but he did little to make a statement. Such has been the case during Greene's various stints with the Cardinals the last three years.
Still, the Cardinals remain high on Greene's skill set and perhaps giving Greene a longer leash on a starting role will allow him the opportunity to get comfortable and finally produce as he has in the Minor Leagues.
"I'm looking forward to this year," said Greene, who hit .212 with a .322 on-base percentage in 58 games with St. Louis last year. "I've learned a lot over the last couple years. [I'm] just really looking forward to coming to Spring Training ready, and using what I've learned the last couple years to my advantage."
Molina misses Winter Warm-Up
ST. LOUIS -- General manager John Mozeliak defused speculation that catcher Yadier Molina's absence from this weekend's Winter Warm-Up had anything to do with the club's inability to re-sign first baseman Albert Pujols.
"I just don't think he really loves the autograph process and going through all of that," said Mozeliak, noting that Molina did not appear at last year's event either. "He'll likely probably try to make a donation [to Cardinals Care] to make up for that. He understands the club's stance on this. Clearly, it's not something that's become a big issue."
Mozeliak said that the idea of having Molina make a donation to Cardinals Care -- the team's community foundation and beneficiary of Winter Warm-Up proceeds -- was brought up during recent discussions that he had with Molina and Molina's agent.
Mozeliak also briefly touched on the subject of Molina's contract status on Saturday. Molina, who will make $7 million in 2012, is set to become a free agent at the end of the season. Mozeliak did not provide any specifics regarding negotiations with Molina, saying only that "he is certainly someone we would like to keep here long term."
Cards invite 19 players to Major League camp
ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals have formally issued Major League Spring Training invites to 19 players, including three players -- lefty R.J. Swindle, catcher Koyie Hill and utility man Eugenio Velez -- who were signed as Minor League free agents this offseason.
Highlighting the rest of the list are top prospect Shelby Miller, 2011 first-rounder Kolten Wong, and Matt Adams, who some believe could be the first baseman of the future.
The rest of the list includes: pitchers John Gast, Joe Kelly, Trevor Rosenthal, Jordan Swagerty, Victor Marte, Nick Greenwood, Kevin Siegrist and Tyrell Jenkins; catchers Steven Hill, Robert Stock, Luis de la Cruz and Cody Stanley; and infielder Ryan Jackson.
If the Cardinals have plans to eventually move Zack Cox away from third base, the former first-round Draft pick is currently unaware. MLB.com ranked Cox as St. Louis' third-best prospect in 2011, though there are some concerns that he may not develop the prototypical power for a Major League third baseman.
But as things stand now, Cox has no plans to get any defensive repetitions anywhere but at his natural position.
"I haven't played anywhere but third base, so that's where I've been working," Cox said. "So until they tell me differently, I'm going to keep working there and see what happens."
Matt Carpenter said that he has spent the offseason focusing on increasing his versatility, hopeful that this will help his chances at making the big league club out of Spring Training. In his first three years in the Minors, Carpenter played exclusively as a third baseman.
The Cardinals, of course, don't currently have a need for an everyday third baseman, as David Freese has that spot wrapped up.
"I'm here to play and will [go] wherever they put me," Carpenter said. "I want to try and be versatile."
While the Cardinals have already addressed their most pressing offseason needs, general manager John Mozeliak refused to close the door on the possibility of some additional activity. The organization, Mozeliak said, continues to eye available free agents and assess the trade market to see if there is an opportunity still to upgrade.
"We're never not doing business, so we'll see how things unfold as we get closer to Opening Day," Mozeliak said. "I don't ever want to paint ourselves in a corner to where we're done because, as you know, we're always opportunistic. Right now, if you look at the free agent market, there are a lot of players left. Closing the door on that I don't think would be prudent."
Even if the Cardinals make no more additions before the season, Mozeliak said he anticipates the club's payroll sitting north of the $110 million mark.
If he hasn't already, new Cardinals outfielder Carlos Beltran might want to start thinking about a new number. Beltran has worn No. 15 for the last 12 years; however, it does not appear as if shortstop Rafael Furcal has any intention of turning that number over. Furcal began wearing No. 15 in 2006, retained it with the Cardinals last year and said he intends to keep wearing it in 2012.
"I've been with my number," Furcal said, "and won a World Series."
Right-hander Lance Lynn, who was a starter all through his Minor League climb, said he remains open to whatever role the Cardinals slot him into. That role, at least initially, is likely to be in the 'pen, as St. Louis appears to have its rotation already set. Lynn would, though, be a candidate to transition back into a starting role if a need arises.
"I just want to pitch, wherever that may be," Lynn said. "That's all that matters to me."
Due to the death of a grandparent, Marc Rzepczynski will not be attending Winter Warm-Up.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.