3 pressing questions as Cards open camp

February 16th, 2016

JUPITER, Fla. -- While a number of players have been working out at the team's Spring Training facility for days -- and in some cases, weeks -- the official start of Cardinals camp is finally on tap.
After a winter of unsuccessful bold pursuits and complementary additions, the Cardinals will hold their first team workout on Thursday, one day after pitchers and catchers are required to report to camp. On Feb. 23, manager Mike Matheny will run the club's first full-squad workout.
Comeback candidates | Newcomers | Prospects | Position battles | Projections
It's all a prelude to April, when the Cardinals open up Major League Baseball's 2016 season with a 12:05 p.m. CT game against the Pirates. However, leading up to that April 3 opener, the club has much to settle. It's not just building a 25-man roster, either, as much of St. Louis' work this spring will be determining where those on-roster players fit into the mix.
From players seeking rebound seasons to those looking to break out, there's plenty at stake for several individual Cardinals this spring.
Spring Training information
But collectively, there are also questions to answer. Here is a look at three of the most pressing:

1. Who's on first?
With few position battles to advertise this spring, the Cardinals' most interesting competition sets up to be at first base. The club has indicated it will open camp with last year's non-waiver Trade Deadline acquisition, Brandon Moss, atop the position depth chart. But a strong spring from Matt Adams and/or a stumble from Moss could make things interesting. Both Moss and Adams are eyeing rebound years. Adams was limited to 60 games because of a quad strain in 2015, while Moss felt his power sapped in his first season back from hip surgery. Regardless who seizes the starting job, the Cards need more from a position that produced a .238/.310/.392 slash line in 2015.

2. How's the health?
The Cards will open camp with some health uncertainty, most notably as it concerns their veteran catcher, Yadier Molina. While Molina, who underwent a pair of thumb procedures this offseason, recently had his cast removed, the Cards won't know for another few weeks whether he'll be able to get his strength back quickly enough to start on Opening Day. Two pitchers -- Carlos Martinez and Jordan Walden -- who ended the season sidelined also will have to prove themselves recovered. And then there's the annual task of maneuvering through Spring Training without any new injuries arising. Without exceptional depth on the position player side, that will be imperative.

3. Can they find order?
Lineup scrutiny abounds every spring, but perhaps this is the year that some substantial tinkering is in order. The Cardinals may consider moving Matt Carpenter into a run-production spot, but they would have to find a capable replacement to bat leadoff in order to do so. Kolten Wong has expressed interest in nabbing that top spot, though an uptick in on-base percentage would be needed for him to seize it. It's not just about who's up top, either. Will Matt Holliday move out of the No. 3 hole for the first time in five years? And who fits best at cleanup? While the Cardinals may have most of their roles already set, how those players line up will crystallize this spring.