JUPITER, Fla. -- With competitions ended and impressions made, the Cardinals have finalized the 25-man roster they'll feature, barring injury, when they open the season against the Cubs on April 2.Manager Mike Matheny spent part of Saturday morning delivering news to players. For some, congratulations were in order. Outfielder Jose
JUPITER, Fla. -- With competitions ended and impressions made, the Cardinals have finalized the 25-man roster they'll feature, barring injury, when they open the season against the Cubs on April 2.
Manager Mike Matheny spent part of Saturday morning delivering news to players. For some, congratulations were in order. Outfielder Jose Martinez and Miguel Socolovich learned they would make an Opening Day roster for the first time in their careers. Reliever Matt Bowman, infielder Greg Garcia and catcher Eric Fryer were also assured big league roster spots.
For others, the news wasn't as hoped. Most notably, outfielder Tommy Pham was optioned to Triple-A Memphis. He was nudged out of a bench spot by Martinez, who parlayed a strong first impression last September into a terrific spring.
"You have one spot for a right-handed bat [on the bench], and I don't think any of us can deny how strong a spring Jose Martinez has had," Matheny said. "That's why we do what we do. Every day, guys are in here fighting for a spot. Every day, guys are fighting to keep a spot. Then they are looking for a spot that keeps them on the field. That's kind of how it works."
This is the earliest the Cardinals have set their Opening Day roster since Matheny stepped in as manager. The lack of position competition and scarcity of injuries allowed things to come together relatively seamlessly. Unless there's an unexpected development in the next week, the roster will include the following players:
Starting pitchers: Carlos Martinez, Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, Lance Lynn, Mike Leake
Relievers: Seunghwan Oh, Kevin Siegrist, Brett Cecil, Trevor Rosenthal, Jonathan Broxton, Bowman, Socolovich
Catchers: Yadier Molina, Fryer
Infielders: Matt Carpenter, Kolten Wong, Aledmys Diaz, Jhonny Peralta, Matt Adams, Jedd Gyorko, Garcia
Outfielders: Stephen Piscotty, William Fowler, Randal Grichuk, Jose Martinez
Disabled list: Tyler Lyons, Zach Duke, Alex Reyes
Of this group of 25, it's Martinez whose story stands out as most poignant. After 10 years toiling in the Minors, Martinez made his Major League debut with the Cardinals when he was called up last September. But a spot on the Opening Day roster? Martinez, 28, wasn't sure that would ever come.
"Making a roster out of Spring Training is really hard," said Martinez, after calling his mother in Venezuela to share the news. "I've talked with a lot of guys who have had unbelievable Spring Trainings and unbelievable careers, and they never get that opportunity. From now on, it's going to be more work. It's going to be more concentration, more focus on whatever I'm going to do for the team."
Martinez leads the Cardinals with 17 hits, four homers and 13 RBIs this spring. He also enhanced his credentials by showing that he could play first base, in addition to both corner outfield spots.
"Besides when I held my son in my hands, that was the best news I've gotten in my life," Martinez said. "Words can't explain what I'm feeling right now. … I'm going to tell those guys out there that you never have to give up. Just go out there and show what you can do on the field and think that you can do it. It's possible."
Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast.