PORT ST. LUCIE -- Having already showcased his power several times in batting practice this spring, Matt Adams delivered the Cardinals' first spring home run on Tuesday.
It was a mighty statement, too, as Adams crushed an elevated fastball over the left-center-field wall for a go-ahead grand slam in an 8-6 loss to the Mets.
"The swing felt really good," Adams said. "Coming in off the bench late, I just wanted to jump on the pitch early. I saw it good out of [Jeurys Familia's] hands and put a good swing on it."
Adams' power potential is no secret. He had 32 homers a year ago in Double-A and has accumulated 64 in his 299 Minor League games. While Adams would seem destined to begin the year starting in Triple-A, he does have a chance to at least push himself into discussions about a potential bench role in St. Louis.
The fact that the Cardinals appear to lack power among their other bench options makes Adams an intriguing name to throw into the mix.
However, there's also Adams' development to consider. Losing regular playing time could stall his growth, and that's usually why organizations are hesitant to push a prospect into the big leagues before an everyday job is available.
Adams has appeared in both of the Cardinals' spring games so far. He went 1-for-3 with a single on Monday.
"Yesterday and today, I saw the ball good out of pitchers' hands," Adams said. "I'm sure down the road, pitchers are going to get to everybody. I'm just trying to get hits early and go from there."
Westbrook debuts new delivery in two-inning outing
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Jake Westbrook's spring has been highlighted by transformation.
The most obvious is physical, as a strict offseason diet left Westbrook about 20 pounds lighter than he was at the end of the 2011 season. But there's been a mechanical tweak, too, and it was on display Tuesday when Westbrook made his first Grapefruit League start of the spring.
Told by teammates in 2010 that he was tipping pitches, Westbrook took steps last year to eliminate the disadvantage by lowering the positioning of his hands during his delivery. That change did improve his deception, but it was not always easily repeatable. And in reflecting back on an inconsistent 2011 season, Westbrook identified that as one of the underlying troubles.
In an effort to reclaim consistency, Westbrook changed where his hands are yet again this spring. He's inched them back up -- not all the way to where they once were when he utilized an over-the-head motion, but to a place where he feels more comfortable.
"I want to get to where everything looks the same and I can just go out there and pitch and repeat my delivery," Westbrook said. "I felt strong. I felt real good. It's a good starting point. I'll take what I got out of the day and learn from it and try to get back to be more consistent in the zone."
Westbrook needed 30 pitches to get through two scoreless innings. He threw half of those pitches for strikes. Westbrook walked two, but he also kept the Mets hitless with runners on base. It was the second straight scoreless appearance put in by a Cardinals starter over the team's first two spring games.
"He did a good job," manager Mike Matheny said. "He was a little bit up more than where he'd normally be and where he's been all spring, so you could tell he felt good and was excited to be out there. Overall, I felt like it was a real nice job."
Winds of change don't faze Carpenter in outfield
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- With the added challenge of dealing with winds that gusted to about 30 mph, Matt Carpenter had what can only be termed a successful debut as an outfielder on Tuesday.
After starting at third base on Monday, Carpenter shifted to right field for the Cardinals' first road game of the spring. Before Tuesday, his experience at the position had been limited only to backfields. The defensive crash course began over the winter, when Carpenter enlisted his former college head coach and father, a high school baseball coach, to help him learn the new position.
Carpenter's first opportunity as an outfielder came in the third, when he ran in to catch the final out of the inning. He had one other putout before hustling into the clubhouse during the top of the sixth to swap his outfielder's glove for his third base one. Carpenter finished the final three innings as an infielder.
"He's an athlete," manager Mike Matheny said. "He can do a lot out there. So far he looks good."
Most of Carpenter's playing time will continue to come as a corner outfielder and third baseman. He's also expected to get work in at first base. The two middle infield positions are not priorities at this point. If he is going to break the Cardinals' Opening Day roster, Carpenter must prove that he can handle multiple positions.
Manager Mike Matheny showed on Tuesday that he is going to put his pitchers into situations similar to what they'll face during the season. Scott Linebrink, as opposed to one of several Minor League pitchers making the trip, was called upon to try and get out of an early bases-loaded situation. Matheny then lined Kyle McClellan and Fernando Salas up to pitch the eighth and ninth, respectively, after the Cardinals took a seventh-inning lead.
As it turned out, Salas never did get in, as the Mets scored three times off Adam Reifer in the seventh.
"We're going to have some guys designated at the tail end of the game," Matheny said. "You want them to get their work in, but there's nothing wrong with getting them some situational pitching right from the start, too."
Matheny said he has encouraged his team to be aggressive on the basepaths during these Grapefruit League games. Baserunning has been a focus during workouts, and the Cardinals would rather have players take chances now so that aggressiveness becomes more instinctual.
Jon Jay and Daniel Descalso are among the position players who will travel to Viera, Fla., for Wednesday's game against the Nationals. None of the club's most tenured position players will be making the trip. Lance Berkman and Rafael Furcal are slated to make their Grapefruit League debuts on Thursday.
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.