JUPITER, Fla. -- After making just four starts during the second half of the 2011 season, Alex Cora found himself entertaining few offers this offseason. However, the 36-year-old said on Tuesday, after completing his first workout in Cardinals camp, that he never did prepare for the possibility of retiring.
Instead, Cora is now preparing for a six-week battle to earn a spot on his seventh different Major League roster. Invited to camp under a Minor League deal, Cora will be considered for a utility infield role.
"At this level, I'm going to play until someone says, 'No,'" Cora said. "I'm healthy, and I'm in a good situation where I think I can help this team win."
Last year, Cora had little opportunity to prove that, in his 14th big league season, he could still be a valuable infielder at this level. He got some starts at third with Washington early in the year when Ryan Zimmerman missed time with a left abdominal strain. Third base had actually been a fairly unfamiliar spot for Cora before that point.
He's made 616 Major League appearances at short and another 530 at second. Thirty-one of his 48 career third-base appearances came in 2011, and Cora has played another 13 games at first. He remains most comfortable at short, the position he played most regularly after being drafted in 1996.
How Cora fits on this club could hinge on what happens in the second-base competition between Daniel Descalso, Skip Schumaker and Tyler Greene. The two who do not win the starting job would likely remain on the roster as backup infielders, though Schumaker could also serve as a backup outfielder. If outfielder Allen Craig is also healthy, that would leave manager Mike Matheny with just one additional open bench spot to fill.
"Organizations look for players that have a lot of gloves in their locker, but at the same time are good players," Cora said. "I don't think I have to prove myself. I just think I have to come here and earn my spot. Everybody knows what I can do."
Minor hamstring tightness keeps Lynn off hill
JUPITER, Fla. -- Lance Lynn skipped his scheduled side session on Tuesday after alerting the Cardinals' medical staff of some minor tightness in his left hamstring.
The setback, though, should hardly be described as such, Lynn said. He also said that he expects to return to the mound on Wednesday to resume his spring throwing program. Lynn threw his first bullpen session of Spring Training two days ago.
Though he did not throw, Lynn did participate in other on-field workouts on Tuesday.
Right-hander Jordan Swagerty (right arm discomfort), the seventh-ranked Cardinals prospect, was also kept off the mound on Tuesday for precautionary reasons. He, like Lynn, was still in uniform on Tuesday and moved around the fields along with the rest of the pitchers.
Thirteen other pitchers did take the mound on Tuesday, including four-fifths of the team's projected rotation. There was a little added significance for Adam Wainwright, as it was on this date last season that Wainwright ended a throwing session prematurely because of right elbow discomfort.
Wainwright enjoyed a bit of a showcase during his bullpen session, as those scheduled to throw alongside him (Shelby Miller and Trevor Rosenthal) waited until Wainwright finished his work before beginning theirs. Wainwright also had Skip Schumaker and Matt Holliday stand in a makeshift batter's box in order to better simulate a real-game situation.
Former Cardinals president Mark Lamping stopped by the team's spring complex on Tuesday. Lamping was recently named president of the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars. Also visiting camp on Tuesday was former Major Leaguer Dennis Eckersley.
Jon Jay, David Freese and Matt Holliday were among the position players who took part in voluntary workouts on Tuesday. All three arrived in town on Monday, three days in advance of their required report date.
Manager Mike Matheny said that the spring workout schedule will deliberately continue to mix up pitchers and catchers during bullpen sessions. Matheny is making it a point to have a pitcher throw to as many different catchers as possible in order to make sure pitchers are comfortable with whoever catches them in spring games. There are eight catchers in big league camp.
The Cardinals recently extended their baseball analytics licensing deal with TruMedia Networks, which will provide the baseball operations department with pitch-by-pitch video analysis all season.
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.