03/03/12 1:55 PM ET
Whatever the role, Schumaker will be ready
By David Villavicencio / Special to MLB.com
The seven-year veteran has played a variety of roles in his career. He's been a reserve outfielder, a starting second baseman and seemingly everything in between.
Schumaker has been an everyday player for most of the past four years but now appears to be penciled into a utility role for 2012. But that would not be unfamiliar territory for the highly adaptable Schumaker.
"I think it's been my career path where I'd play five or six innings at second base, and then go to the outfield," Schumaker said. "I haven't stopped working in the outfield drills in the past, and I haven't stopped working at second base either."
Since becoming an everyday player in 2008, Schumaker has hit .289 with a .723 OPS. But he understands why the Cardinals are looking at Tyler Greene and Daniel Descalso to fill the role of starting second baseman this spring.
"They're going to have to find a future at second base, and I'm 32 years old, so I don't think I'm their future," Schumaker said. "Tyler Greene is 27 or 28, and Descalso is young, too. They're going to have to find a guy who could man that position for the next five or six years. Those guys could be the guys. They're going to find out shortly if they are, so we'll see."
In addition to their youth, Greene and Descalso also have some quality baseball tools that make them promising young players. But Schumaker will be ready should the Cardinals decide that they would be best with him playing every day again.
"I have over 2,000 at-bats in the Major Leagues," Schumaker said. "Those guys aren't proven at the Major League level yet, so I think they're going to find out what they can do in spring. If they can do what they did in the Minor Leagues, then it's great for our team. If that plan doesn't work, I think they have a great fall-back plan in myself, so we'll see how it works."
Schumaker is also a fall-back plan in the outfield, where Carlos Beltran, Jon Jay and Matt Holliday are expected to play the majority of games.
Despite an undefined role so early in camp, Schumaker is confident that he will be able to succeed in any position the Cardinals choose to play him. Part of that confidence comes from his experience as a versatile player in the past.
"I'm mentally prepared because I've been in that spot," Schumaker said. "It's not a knock on me, because I can play different positions and I've taken at-bats in the big leagues. I'm ready for any sort of job because I've done that before, in '05, '06 and '07. I know how to play off the bench and I know how to start, so I think I'll be able to do whatever they need me to do."
Motte believes in strength of St. Louis 'pen
JUPITER, Fla. -- A year ago, Jason Motte was preparing to be a setup man for former All-Star closer Ryan Franklin.
A lot has changed since last spring, and now Motte is filling the closer role for the Cardinals. He earned his spot at the back of the St. Louis bullpen by posting a 2.25 ERA with a 0.96 WHIP over 68 innings in 2011.
Closing games is not new to the hard-throwing right-hander. He broke camp as the Cardinals' closer in 2009 but struggled and ultimately gave way to Franklin.
Since his rough start in 2009, Motte has proven to be a quality big league reliever capable of pitching in pressure-filled situations. But closing is something that some people believe requires a different mentality than pitching in a setup role. Motte is not one of those people.
"There's no real change at all for me," Motte said. "I'm coming into Spring Training looking to get my arm and body in shape the same way I have every year. I still need to go out there and get people out, so I don't look at anything any differently."
While Motte was consistently good for most of the season last year, the Cardinals' bullpen had some rough patches that cost the team games. Motte believes the club will have a strong bullpen in 2012, thanks to the amount of quality relievers.
"I think we have a real good group of guys," Motte said. "A lot of the guys are back from last year, and we've added someone like J.C. [Romero], who has proven himself to be a good lefty reliever over the years. When it comes down to it, it's about getting people out. I think we have the ability to do it. We've just got to get it done."
Motte threw to hitters on Saturday and has thrown several bullpen sessions this spring. But the Grapefruit League schedule kicks off on Monday, and the 29-year-old cannot wait to face an actual opponent.
"I've thrown some bullpens and live BPs, but I'm ready for a game," Motte said. "I think I am throwing on Wednesday, and I'm excited to face hitters and get back into the swing of things."
Matheny reveals Cards' initial spring rotation
JUPITER, Fla. -- With Grapefruit League play set to begin on Monday, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny announced his team's first five starting pitchers of the spring.
Kyle Lohse will start the opener against the Marlins on Monday at 12:05 p.m. CT. Jake Westbrook is scheduled to pitch on Tuesday, while top prospect Shelby Miller will start Wednesday. Left-hander Jaime Garcia will start on Thursday, and Adam Wainwright will make his first start since 2010 when he takes the mound on Friday against the Twins.
"He's been the one guy who I think we've been very clear about from the beginning, that we've got to stay on the program with him," Matheny said of Wainwright. "He's been on track, and to stay on track, I think it's really important. With all of these guys, it's working toward Opening Day."
One name noticeably absent from the group is right-hander Chris Carpenter. The Cardinals' ace is still building up to get ready to pitch in games and does not know when he will make a Grapefruit League start.
"I'm on schedule to do whatever they have me do," Carpenter said. "I don't know what the schedule is."
Carpenter is not concerned with the uncertainty of when he will start a Grapefruit League game. He is focused on preparing to make the Opening Day start on April 4 against the Marlins at Miami's new ballpark.
"I'm going to try to continue to get more and more comfortable as we lead up to the games," Carpenter said. "I still have a ways to go, but it's like any Spring Training. I'm just trying to get ready."
Matheny is trying to get his team ready for Opening Day as well. The first-year manager is doing his best to make Spring Training workouts seem less redundant and mundane by doing some things differently on occasion.
For example, the Cardinals spent part of their workout on Saturday practicing relays and cutoffs on the Roger Dean Stadium field. On Sunday, the team will have another break from the typical spring routine and play in an intrasquad game.
"I think we've pushed past the point of getting everybody into baseball shape," Matheny said. "You do have to experience running the bases off the bat. You have to start putting the pieces together of what we've been working on, whether it's individual or team fundamentals. That's an important step, so we will have an intrasquad game of some sort. It's obviously not as intense, but it's taking a step forward toward the games."
Pitchers Chris Carpenter, Maikel Cleto, Marc Rzepczynski and Jason Motte threw to live hitters on Saturday. Jake Westbrook, Lance Lynn, Joe Kelly, Nick Greenwood, Trevor Rosenthal, Sam Freeman, Adam Reifer, Kevin Siegrest and Tyrell Jenkins threw bullpen sessions.
Scott Linebrink did not throw to live batters on Saturday like he was scheduled to. The right-hander has been nursing a right hamstring injury since Wednesday.
The Cardinals hosted an autograph session at Roger Dean Stadium following their workout on Saturday.
David Villavicencio is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.