JUPITER, Fla. -- In a lineup otherwise filled with experienced Major League players, Matt Adams found himself handed the chance to make an early impression. Manager Mike Matheny made Adams the starting first baseman and six-hole hitter in Monday's Grapefruit League opener.
"I was completely surprised," Adams said of drawing the starting assignment. "It's a great opportunity, and I'm just excited to get out there and play a real game."
Adams played six innings in the team's 4-3 loss to the Marlins and finished 1-for-3 with a single and strikeout. MLB.com's ninth-ranked Cardinals prospect and the organization's most recent Minor League Player of the Year, Adams is participating in his first big league Spring Training.
He seems a long shot to make the Cardinals' Opening Day roster out of camp, though that is very much Adams' intention. He has taken advantage of time spent with current first baseman Lance Berkman and former first basemen John Mabry and Mark McGwire during workouts to get feedback, particularly on the defensive end.
"Each year in Spring Training I have been getting better and better at first," Adams said. "I just want to continue that this spring, and hopefully the offense takes care of itself. I'm going to continue to do early work in the cage and still do my work in batting practice."
Most of the intrigue surrounding Adams is tied to his bat -- and for good reason. After combining to hit .326 with 90 extra-base hits in his first 184 Minor League games, Adams thrived in Double-A Springfield last year. He finished 2011 with a .300 average, 23 doubles, 32 homers and 101 RBIs in 115 games.
If Adams does not crack the Cardinals' roster, he lines up to be the starting first baseman in Triple-A Memphis. But he'll get a long look before that decision is made.
"He's impressed a lot of people," Matheny said. "His makeup, the way he's gone about things, the work he's put in, it's just been real impressive. The talent is there; I don't think anybody has doubted that. I think it's going to be a great test for him to get out and be a part of the first game here."
Matheny revels in first game as manager
JUPITER, Fla. -- Mike Matheny's day on Monday began hours before sunrise, when, without any alarm clock assistance, he got out of bed and headed to Roger Dean Stadium.
He was the first to arrive, pulling into his designated parking spot at just a little after 4 a.m. ET. About nine hours later, he made his managerial debut in the Cardinals' Grapefruit League opener against the Marlins.
"I typically sleep pretty well, but I couldn't wait to get here," Matheny said. "Sleep wasn't a priority. I couldn't wait to get in and get this day going. I was always a player that was real anxious. Today, it was pure excitement. I couldn't wait to watch these guys do their thing."
Matheny's been an early riser all spring, though he usually arrives at his office closer to 5 a.m. Matheny said his day always begins the same way, with some quiet time for thought and reading. He then gets to work on making any necessary adjustments to the daily schedule and squeezes in a workout for himself.
Monday provided the task of actually managing a game, albeit without the pressure he'll begin to face in April. Matheny scribbled out the lineup card himself -- not leaving the task to one of his coaches, as many managers do -- and showed that he is not afraid to be a tactician, even in early March.
He inserted a right-handed-hitting pinch-hitter to play to the matchup during the Cardinals' ninth-inning rally. That pinch-hitter, Steven Hill, followed with an RBI single, though St. Louis' rally eventually fell one run short in its 4-3 loss to Miami.
"Certainly, as we get into later innings, we're not going to let a win slip by us because that becomes a habit, too," Matheny said. "We'd like to start the habit of winning as much as possible."
Greene starts, but other competitors play
JUPITER, Fla. -- All three players in competition for the Cardinals' starting second-base job saw time in Monday's Grapefruit League opener. Only Tyler Greene, however, actually played second base.
Manager Mike Matheny has discarded any notion that Greene is the favorite to win everyday playing time, but Greene is still expected to get more spring work at the position than the other two. That imbalance is due to the fact that he has less experience at second than Skip Schumaker and Daniel Descalso, both of whom will be versatile defenders if they don't end up with a starting job.
Schumaker led off and played five innings in right field on Monday; Descalso played third and batted eighth.
"I'm just coming down here ready to work, ready to show them that I improved last year and that I can build on what I did last year," said Descalso, who took the majority of his ground balls during workouts at second.
Of the 90 starts Descalso has made in the Majors, 70 have come at third.
Greene showed nice range corralling a ball to his right and then throwing out Hanley Ramirez at first early in Monday's loss to the Marlins. He doubled down the left-field line in his first at-bat. Matheny removed Greene from the game after six innings.
"It was great to get out there in a game and have some game situations at game speed," Greene said. "It was a good day today. I was able to get some ground balls, get some different types of ground balls. The more reps, the more innings over there, the more comfortable anybody would get."
Stock making the move to pitcher
JUPITER, Fla. -- Catcher Robert Stock received some surprising news on Sunday, when Cardinals manager Mike Matheny called him into his office after workouts.
Matheny informed Stock that he had been reassigned to Minor League camp. That wasn't the shock. It was that he'd be showing up the next day as a pitcher.
Stock, who did throw 117 1/3 innings while enrolled at the University of Southern California, has done nothing but catch since. There were several scouts and front-office members who were eager to make this catcher-to-pitcher conversion soon after Stock was drafted in 2009, but, largely because of Matheny's resistance, the position switch didn't come immediately.
"I've been one of the biggest roadblocks to that [conversion happening]," said Matheny, a former catcher. "But he's at that age where it would be advantageous to him. Obviously, he wanted to make a great run at catching, but I think he's got a bright future as a pitcher."
Stock, 22, played 189 games in three Minor League seasons, ascending only as high as Class A. He hit .241 and threw out 29 percent of attempted basestealers.
Though Matheny noted that Stock wasn't particularly excited to hear the organization's decision, the soon-to-be right-handed pitcher doesn't have to look far to see what a second chance can mean. Jason Motte made the catcher-to-pitcher conversion in 2006, and he is now the Cardinals' closer. Motte is expected to talk with Stock about the experience later this spring.
"It was just assessing where he has the potential to really help out up here," Matheny said. "Robert is a smart kid. He gets it. He knows he's going to have an opportunity."
Cards send Swagerty to Minor League camp
JUPITER, Fla. -- The Cardinals trimmed their pitching staff by sending right-hander Jordan Swagerty out to Minor League camp, which began on Monday.
Though Swagerty was not fighting for a roster spot this spring, he still had hoped to make more of an impression. Yet he never had much of a chance. Stiffness in his right triceps kept Swagerty off the mound for most of his time in big league camp. He threw just two bullpen sessions before being shut down.
"He came in with a great attitude, and what stuff we saw was pretty impressive," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "He needs to go make a healthier impression down in Minor League camp. He's excited about taking that challenge and going forward."
General manager John Mozeliak said Swagerty is scheduled to visit with a doctor again on Tuesday, after which his next step will be determined. Earlier tests showed no structural damage in his arm.
Manager Mike Matheny said on Monday that his lineup plans for the season remain fluid. Though Matheny has written out several possible batting order combinations, he is going to watch Spring Training unfold before making any decisions.
"When we get going in the season, we have to have the lineup hot, too," Matheny said. "There's going to be an opportunity for everyone to show what they do. I think that's one of the good things about having a lineup that hasn't been etched in stone. You do have an opportunity for these guys to make an impression that might change our minds."
Matheny revealed that Maikel Cleto will follow Jake Westbrook in Tuesday's game against the Mets. Cleto will pitch multiple innings, unless his pitch count dictates otherwise. Other pitchers scheduled to make the trip to Port St. Lucie include: Chuckie Fick, Sam Freeman, Kyle McClellan, Adam Ottavino, Adam Reifer, Fernando Salas and Scott Linebrink. Not all will get into the game.
Lou Brock and Bob Gibson, who are regular guest instructors at Cardinals Spring Training, are expected to arrive soon.
Matt Carpenter and Mark Hamilton will be getting work at a variety of positions this spring. However, both made their first appearance of the spring at their most natural position. Carpenter played the final three innings at third base, while Hamilton appeared at first base. Carpenter contributed to the Cardinals' ninth-inning rally with a two-run double.
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.