JUPITER, Fla. -- The Cardinals took some of the guesswork out of the final week of Spring Training by finalizing their Opening Day roster one week before it's due. But questions still persist. As we count down the days (hours? minutes?) until Sunday's season opener against the Cubs (7:35 p.m.
JUPITER, Fla. -- The Cardinals took some of the guesswork out of the final week of Spring Training by finalizing their Opening Day roster one week before it's due. But questions still persist. As we count down the days (hours? minutes?) until Sunday's season opener against the Cubs (7:35 p.m. CT at Busch Stadium), let's take a look at some of the things still on your mind.
Can Matt Adams' offseason changes be relied upon this year?
-- Grant from London, England (@grantsales)
As has been well-documented throughout camp, Adams shed 30 pounds over the winter as part of what he described as a "lifestyle change." He also altered his swing. We can't know now how this will translate over the next six months, but Adams' spring results (after a slow start) were quite encouraging. He looks a step quicker, more agile and his strength wasn't sapped by the weight loss. The biggest question continues to surround his fit. Even with the added outfield versatility, Adams is in not positioned to garner regular at-bats. That could end up stalling some of this progress.
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What are the expectations for Lance Lynn coming off Tommy John surgery?
-- Michael R. from Indiana (@mjbates68)
They're pretty high, actually. Lynn had the benefit of undergoing elbow surgery in November 2015, which means he had an 18-month recovery period. Many pitchers push to come back in a year. Aside from a back twinge that shortened his start last Saturday, Lynn has had a strong spring. He's allowed two earned runs, struck out eight and posted a 0.93 WHIP over 15 Grapefruit League innings.
The Cardinals have not put an innings cap on Lynn for the upcoming season. They'll monitor the workload, certainly, and will try to be proactive if he faces any fatigue. But the club is optimistic that Lynn will return as a rotation workhorse. The righty will have some added motivation, too, as a big year in 2017 could set him up well for free agency in the offseason.
What will Trevor Rosenthal's role be?
-- Gordon J. from Peoria, Ill. (@RenalG1)
Other than making a spot for him in the bullpen, Rosenthal's role remains undefined. He did stretch out this spring, so the Cardinals will view him as a multiple-innings option. He won't be a long reliever who gobbles up innings in a blowout, but could be someone who bridges a close game to the team's late-inning relievers. There's also the chance that Rosenthal pitches himself back into a late-inning role himself. The Cardinals like the versatility Rosenthal offers and are willing to see how things transpire early in the season before determining the precise fit.
How long of a leash does Kolten Wong have? He had an OK spring, but Greg Garcia is an on-base machine.
-- Mike G. from Granger, Ind. (@Gallo314Mike)
That leash may not be as long as advertised over the winter when GM John Mozeliak stressed that the team was ready to stick with Wong. However, Wong has not looked good at the plate this spring, and that has opened the door for Jedd Gyorko and Garcia. In fact, Cards manager Mike Matheny won't discount the possibility of beginning the season with a second-base platoon. I do believe Wong will still get the bulk of second-base at-bats early in the season, but if he scuffles on the heels of a frustrating spring, he could see that playing time slip away.
Who plays shortstop when Aledmys Diaz needs rest or gets hurt? Jhonny Peralta? Garcia? Gyorko? Or D: All of the above?
-- Corey R. from O'Fallon, Mo. (@CoreyRudd)
Technically, the answer is 'D.' The Cardinals consider any of the above as shortstop options. Their preference, though, would be to slide Peralta to short, a position he has handled for years at this level. He's gotten sporadic work at the position this spring for that purpose of being ready there when needed. If Peralta moves to short for a game, Garcia or Gyorko would then be options to fill in at third.
Who would you consider to be our sixth and seventh starters should there be an injury? John Gant? Luke Weaver? Someone else?
-- Mike Z. (@MikeZile)
Gant and Weaver would be near the top of the list. Both are slated to begin the year in Triple-A Memphis' rotation, which will also feature Mike Mayers and Arturo Reyes. Gant and Mayers were most impressive this spring, but oftentimes the decision comes down to timing, so the first callup may have more to do with the pitchers' schedules than anything else.
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.