03/18/2013 5:25 PM ET
Descalso's versatility helps in utility infielder battle
By Jenifer Langosch / MLB.com
JUPITER, Fla. -- With Pete Kozma set to serve as the Cardinals' starting shortstop until further notice, the club will use the last two weeks of Spring Training to assess their backup options at the position.
Daniel Descalso made his first start of the spring at short in Monday's 3-2 loss to the Mets and looked steady with every chance he had in the field. The position isn't entirely new for him -- Descalso started 31 games there during his career -- but it also isn't as natural a spot as second and third base are for the versatile infielder.
"I have played a decent amount over there where I'm getting more comfortable," Descalso said. "It's not as hard for me to bounce around now as when I first came up. Yesterday, I had my day off, so I knew I was playing short today and I did my work there. I got some work in this morning and I was good to go after that."
The Cardinals seem to have no trepidation in using Descalso at the position, which means he could provide the insurance they need behind Kozma. That would seemingly put Ronny Cedeno's hold on a roster spot in jeopardy. Manager Mike Matheny reiterated Monday that it is not a necessity for the club to keep three players capable of playing shortstop on the Major League roster.
If the Cardinals release Cedeno, who signed a $1.15 million contract with the team in January, they would create space for another position player on the bench. That other position player would likely be Matt Adams, who brings a big bat, but little defensive versatility.
"We're just looking to continue to watch him and see how he fits in," Matheny said of Cedeno.
Both Descalso and second baseman du jour Matt Carpenter impressed defensively against the Mets. They helped turned two double plays, one of which had Descalso throwing to second from deep in the hole.
"Our middle there was very good," Matheny said. "Carp made a couple great turns [at second], and Daniel's feeds were right on the money on some tough angles. He looked very good out there."
Matheny launches website to spread message
JUPITER, Fla. -- Long an advocate for changing the culture of youth sports, manager Mike Matheny will now use social media platforms to disseminate his message.
Matheny has started a website -- www.mikematheny.com -- on which he will post blogs and video interviews related to his views on how to change that culture. In a welcome letter posted on his website, Matheny described his intention of creating the website as a way to bring children and parents "fresh information and videos … that will challenge and encourage coaches, parents and aspiring athletes to use sports as a platform to develop character, and skills that are needed for success on the field and off."
Matheny unintentionally became a leading advocate for this culture change in 2009, after he typed out a letter noting a number of conditions that had to be met before he agreed to coach a youth baseball team. The letter denounced parental interference and spoke of an environment that would be faith-based.
That letter has since circulated nationally and is now known as the Matheny Manifesto. Through his website -- and a complementing Twitter account (@mikematheny22) -- Matheny intends to provide additional resources for those who believe in his vision.
"There are a lot of people that believe in that concept, so now what?" Matheny said Monday. "[I'm] just trying to give them some things to challenge them, and the target market is coaches, parents and kids, for trying to change the concept of youth sports or the culture of youth sports, or give them another option."
Matheny's blog posts aren't solely dedicated to the topic of youth sports, either. He has already written about a wide-range of topics, including Chris Carpenter's injury, Lance Lynn's weight loss, the fifth starter competition and his recent surgery. The website also highlights Matheny's foundation -- The Catch22 Foundation -- which is now in its 10th year.
• With a 3-1 win against Team Japan on Monday, Team Puerto Rico advanced to the final of the World Baseball Classic. That means the Cardinals won't see Carlos Beltran or Yadier Molina in camp until Thursday, after playing either the Kingdom of the Netherlands or Dominican Republic on Tuesday in a 7 p.m. CT game on MLB Network.
Molina and Beltran will travel from San Francisco to Florida on Wednesday, which is an off-day for the Cardinals. By the time they return, the pair will have been absent from Spring Training for 18 days. Though he is eager to have two of his starting position players back in camp, manager Mike Matheny noted that he will be "pulling for Puerto Rico" on Tuesday.
• After the team's off-day Thursday, the Cardinals are expected to begin pitching their relievers on back-to-back days to simulate situations that will arise during the regular season.
• Ryan Jackson, who was optioned to Triple-A Memphis on Sunday, is expected to play several infield positions in the Minors. By tapping into Jackson's versatility, the Cardinals will keep the 24-year-old ready in case a need opens up at second, short and third at the Major League level.
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.