3/25/2014 6:22 P.M. ET
Slugger Adams could bunt to beat the shift
By Jenifer Langosch / MLB.com
JUPITER, Fla. -- It was a bit of an unusual sight on Sunday, watching the Cardinals' spring home run leader and middle-of-the-order man, Matt Adams, square to bunt against the Astros. Well, get ready to see it more often.
One of the ways the Cardinals hope that Adams can beat the infield shift that several teams use against him is with the bunt. On Sunday, for instance, the Astros' closest player to third base was positioned at short. Being able to bunt down the line would give Adams a guaranteed way to reach base.
Manager Mike Matheny said he is "absolutely" a proponent of Adams bunting more often when the defense gives him that sort of hole.
"Let's say he's 40 percent on getting a ball over there and getting the ball down," Matheny said. "That's a pretty good on-base percentage, right? All he's got to do is get it down. ... If you bunt hard enough, it might be a double. I'm a big fan of him taking advantage of that."
If Adams can execute -- or even just threaten -- that could also be enough to leave other clubs questioning how much of a shift to employ. The Cardinals will continue to work with Adams on his bunting technique -- as would be expected, it has never been much of a focus of his before -- and will encourage him to keep making the attempts in the right situations.
"It's all about taking what they're going to give you," Matheny said. "I'd have liked for him to show a little bit more of it this spring, just to keep people honest. But maybe it will be wide open for him once the season starts."
Lynn works through monotony of facing Fish again
JUPITER, Fla. -- Lance Lynn will open the season by facing the Reds twice, beginning with an April 3 start in Cincinnati. The repetition of opponent is of no concern to Lynn, who, with a five-inning start on Tuesday, wrapped up a spring in which he faced the Marlins in four of his five starts.
Add in his Grapefruit League work last season at Roger Dean Stadium, and seven of his last eight spring outings have been against the club that shares the Cardinals' spring complex.
"It does get old. It truly does," Lynn said afterward. "I think I saw the exact same lineup three of the four times I faced them, too. You're seeing the same guys and you don't really want to go after them like you're going to in the regular season. And you're also working on things. So it's kind of tough. But it is what it is. You have to get your pitches in, your pitch count up, and you have to throw guys things that you don't want to throw them, but you have to."
Despite the monotony, Lynn expressed satisfaction with how he progressed this spring. Fastball command came early, and along with it a feel for his cutter and changeup. He liked the movement with his curveball during his side session a few days ago and tested the Marlins with the pitch three times on Tuesday.
He also finished Grapefruit League play having struck out 27 batters in 16 1/3 innings. Eight of those strikeouts came Tuesday.
"It's good," Lynn said. "It's part of my game, so that means my fastball has life and my breaking pitches are where I want. That's what it's all about -- changing eye sights and getting swings and misses. To get strikeout numbers in Spring Training, usually you don't see it that much."
With his work in Florida done, Lynn now prepares for an extended break. Because his next start is nine days away, he anticipates throwing an extended bullpen session (or simulated game) in a few days and then another bullpen session early next week. His ability to stretch out to 91 pitches in Tuesday's game frees Lynn up from having to overexert himself between now and that season debut.
• Asked on Tuesday if the club expects to carry a defined long reliever on the Opening Day roster, Matheny responded: "Still figuring it out." The Cardinals are currently considering three relievers -- Jorge Rondon, Keith Butler and Scott McGregor -- for the seventh spot in the bullpen.
• Carlos Martinez warmed up on Tuesday and was scheduled to pitch the bottom of the sixth until rain delayed the game for 46 minutes. Because he did not get a relief appearance, the Cardinals will have him available to pitch on Wednesday.
• Jason Motte threw another simulated game on Tuesday, marking his fourth time facing batters this spring. Motte said before the work that he hoped he would next be cleared to appear in a Minor League game before Spring Training ends.
• Kolten Wong hit leadoff for the Cards on Tuesday, and he is a candidate to hit in that spot when Matt Carpenter gets days off during the regular season. The Cardinals are not, however, considering having Wong bat ahead of Carpenter when both are in the lineup.
• The Memphis Redbirds announced on Tuesday that tickets for Friday's exhibition game between the Cardinals and their Triple-A affiliate have been sold out. There are a limited number of VIP packages; visit www.memphisredbirds.com for more information.
• Following Tuesday's rain delay, Mark Ellis moved to third base, a position he had not played this spring. The Cardinals intended to get Ellis work at third until those plans were interrupted by a knee injury. Ellis could be asked to back up at third during the regular 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.