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Quiet Cards stay the course on Day 2 of Meetings

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Having spent much of Tuesday meeting with agents and holding internal discussions about various players, Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said late in the afternoon that "nothing's changed really" in the level of activity over the past 24 hours.

That left the Cards as a quiet presence for the second straight day at baseball's Winter Meetings. By the time the sun set, there were no indications that the organization was close to making any sort of substantial transaction. The absence of activity is hardly a change of pace, though, as the club has not made a trade, nor signed anyone to a Major League contract, since the season ended.

"There are a lot of things in the air," Mozeliak said, "and hopefully we'll bring something to the conclusion in the near future."

Mozeliak said the fact that he spent the day chatting up agents does not suggest that he's turning his attention toward addressing the team's needs through free agency, rather than trades.

The organization continues to scour both markets for left-handed relievers, its top priority. Upgrading the bench continues to be of interest, too, though Mozeliak downplayed any suggestion that the club is pressed to add a middle infielder.

"We're not spending as much time as people think in this market," Mozeliak said. "Our focus has been on other areas, but we have certainly kicked tires."

St. Louis was connected in some reports to free agent Marco Scutaro because of a public conversation Mozeliak had with Scutaro's agent. By Tuesday evening, Scutaro, a 37-year-old with extensive experience playing both second and shortstop, had reportedly been made a multi-year offer by the Giants.

But the Cardinals, confident that Rafael Furcal will be fully healthy by Opening Day, and aware that they have second baseman Kolten Wong ascending quickly through the system, do not appear to be interested in matching such an asking price.

"I'm bullish on Furcal being able to go next year, so I don't think it's a situation where we have to do something," Mozeliak said. "I think again, we've always approached this middle-infield pocket as opportunistic. If something makes sense, we want to pursue it."

In the meantime, the Cardinals are zeroing in on adding a left-handed reliever to complement Marc Rzepczynski in the 'pen. A lefty-on-lefty specialist is the preference, too, given how well the Cards believe they are set up in the back end of the bullpen.

Mozeliak said he still anticipates some of the left-handed free agents coming off the board before the end of the Winter Meetings on Thursday. That list is still headed by Sean Burnett, who, according to one source, the Cardinals "are definitely in on." Burnett, who declined a $3.5 million option after the 2012 season, is expected to command a multi-year deal in this market.

Worth noting
• In discussing the club's outlook on second base for 2013, Mozeliak tempered expectations that Wong could make a push for an Opening Day roster spot. Wong, the team's first pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, hit .287 in 124 Double-A games in 2012.

"He had a great first year, but it was a first year," Mozeliak said. "We have to caution our expectations a little bit. We're very excited about what he was able to do not only in Springfield, but also in the Arizona Fall League. He has a very bright future."

• Manager Mike Matheny said on Tuesday that the club is close to announcing its new assistant hitting coach. A vacancy arose when John Mabry, who held the position last season, took over as hitting coach for the outgoing Mark McGwire. A report in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch said the Cardinals intend to name Bengie Molina, the brother of catcher Yadier Molina, to the post.

"It's been very encouraging to see the interest level, people with incredible, very impressive resumes, the interest of them being involved in this organization," Matheny said of the vetting process. "And the first thing that comes up is I see a team that's about championships, and they want to be a part of it, and that's a huge compliment to what the organization's done and what we currently have in motion."

• Longtime Cardinals scout Marty Keough has been named baseball's West Coast Scout of the Year. He was recognized during an awards luncheon on Monday.

"It's a great recognition of a guy who has given his life to baseball," Mozeliak said. "I've known him for about 18 years now, and he's one of those guys who you always admire for his passion for the game. He's one of those unique individuals that always seemed happy. I look back at my time with him, and he was so much fun to be around and made being at the ballpark that much more enjoyable."

St. Louis Cardinals