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Few spots TBD as Cards' roster takes shape

Strong spring has versatile Martinez on inside track to bench spot
March 14, 2017

JUPITER, Fla. -- Four weeks ago, as part of the Cardinals' Spring Training preview package, MLB.com offered an early prediction of the team's Opening Day roster.Those projections took their first hit just days after camp opened when it was announced that Alex Reyes needed Tommy John surgery and would miss

JUPITER, Fla. -- Four weeks ago, as part of the Cardinals' Spring Training preview package, MLB.com offered an early prediction of the team's Opening Day roster.
Those projections took their first hit just days after camp opened when it was announced that Alex Reyes needed Tommy John surgery and would miss the season. The Cards have avoided major injury since, but performances (both good and bad) have further tweaked the roster outlook.
So with 19 days remaining until the Cardinals and Cubs meet at Busch Stadium on April 2, let's take another stab at predicting which 25 players will be in the Cards' dugout that night:
Spring:Tickets | Ballpark | 40-man roster | NRIs
Catcher:Yadier Molina
Molina is away at the World Baseball Classic, but he'll return to make his 13th straight Opening Day start for the Cardinals. He remains the face of this franchise and an anchor for the pitching staff. This is the final guaranteed year in Molina's contract, so his future with the organization will be a topic of conversation throughout the season.
First base:Matt Carpenter
Carpenter has been slowed by back tightness, which also forced him to withdraw from the Classic. He hasn't swung in a game since March 1, though he hopes to be ready to hit by this weekend. As long as Carpenter reaches that goal, he should be ready come Opening Day. Another setback, however, could jeopardize that.
Second base:Kolten Wong
St. Louis remains committed to opening the season with Wong, who profiles as the team's best defensive infielder. He's had an underwhelming spring at the plate (5-for-23 with no extra-base hits), but that hasn't changed the team's plans for the position. He's expected to begin the year as the team's No. 8 hitter.

Shortstop:Aledmys Diaz
Diaz missed a couple days due to hamstring tightness last week, but he appears past that now. His superb rookie season gave the Cards no reason to look elsewhere for a shortstop. Diaz is likely to return to the second spot in the lineup, and he hopes to provide better defensive stability in the field.
Third base:Jhonny Peralta
The Cardinals haven't yet named their starting third baseman, though it appears as if Peralta will get that nod over Jedd Gyorko. That has nothing to do with Gyorko, who is 7-for-23 with four extra-base hits this spring. Rather, it's a reflection of the impression Peralta has made. He showed up to camp slimmed down and has shown good reaction and range at his new position.
Starting outfield:Randal Grichuk, William Fowler, Stephen Piscotty
Fowler's gregarious personality and affinity for music made an instant impact in the clubhouse. He also hopes to reshape things on the field. Fowler will step in as the team's new leadoff hitter and center fielder. To his sides will be Piscotty and Grichuk, both of whom profile as above-average defenders. Piscotty is likely to settle into the cleanup spot, just ahead of Grichuk.
Bench:Matt Adams, Greg Garcia, Gyorko, Jose Martinez, Eric Fryer
The big change here is the inclusion of Martinez, who has had a standout spring. Martinez leads the club in several offensive categories, and he has added to his versatility by playing first base. His rise will likely knock Tommy Pham off the Opening Day roster. Gyorko and Garcia will give the Cards a pair of utility infielders. Adams can provide some pop off the bench and insurance behind Carpenter. Fryer, a non-roster invitee, will back up Molina.

Rotation:Carlos Martinez, Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn, Mike Leake, Michael Wacha
The first four on this list entered the spring with solid spots. Wacha, however, has earned his with a terrific showing over the past month. The strengthening work he did during the offseason has the right-hander looking like he did prior to his shoulder injury. The rest of the rotation has fallen into place, too. Martinez has shined in the Classic. Wainwright has rediscovered his curveball and is toying with a changeup. Leake is inducing ground balls with ease, and Lynn looks strong post-surgery. The five have combined for a 2.20 ERA in Grapefruit League play.
Bullpen:Seunghwan Oh, Brett Cecil, Kevin Siegrist, Matt Bowman, Jonathan Broxton, Trevor Rosenthal, Miguel Socolovich
The final spot in the bullpen remains up for grabs, with Socolovich, John Gant and Sam Tuivailala standing out as the obvious candidates. The nod may go to Socolovich because of his ability to pitch multiple innings and the fact that he's out of options. Rosenthal has been sidelined over the past week, but he should still be able to get the work necessary to be ready for the start of the season. The other five relievers have done nothing to lose their spots.

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast.