Cardinals Major League Notebook: 12/30/11

Checking on Adam Wainwright's rehab progress and where Carlos Beltran may bat in the 2012 lineup.



New manager Mike Matheny has been playing with potential lineups for much of his first month on the job. But he really began ruminating after the Cardinals signed outfielder Carlos Beltran to a two-year, $26 million deal.

Would Beltran hit second, behind shortstop Rafael Furcal and ahead of outfielder Matt Holliday and first baseman Lance Berkman?

Or would the switch hitter hit third behind Furcal and center fielder Jon Jay? Perhaps fourth? Or even fifth behind Holliday and Berkman?

More likely, Beltran will end up as a No. 2 or 3 hitter although Matheny said, "With Carlos, that term 'flexibility' keeps getting used. So I'll ride with that."

The addition of Beltran helps to compensate, at least a bit, for the loss of first baseman Albert Pujols to free agency. With the New York Mets and San Francisco last year, Beltran had a .525 slugging percentage and was over .900 in the OPS category. The Cardinals' offense last season led the National League in on-base percentage at .341 and OPS at .766.

"It's all on paper now and it looks good on paper," said Holliday. "But we do have to prove it. We have to prove it does more than look good."


RHP Adam Wainwright, who missed the entire 2011 season after suffering an elbow-ligament injury that required Tommy John surgery, is more than a month into his offseason throwing program and already is gearing up to head to Jupiter, Fla., site of Cardinals spring training. So far, so good. "I really think it's good to not think about anything less than normal expectations," said Wainwright. "And my normal expectations are to be the best there is."

OF Carlos Beltran turned down several American League teams—Boston, Cleveland and Toronto—to remain in the DH-less National League. "I feel I can still make a different in the field," Beltran said. "If you're having a tough day offensively, you can go out and play good defense and still change the game."

Former manager Tony La Russa will return to St. Louis in mid-January for a couple of stage shows benefiting his California-based Animal Rescue Foundation and to be honored at the St. Louis Baseball Writers' dinner on Jan. 15. La Russa is weighing several jobs in baseball, but none of them on the field.

One of the developments to be monitored in spring training is how the club intends to use RHP Lance Lynn, a starter for his minor league career who excelled in the bullpen in the postseason. Lynn is one of many right-handed candidates in a bullpen led by the new closer, RHP Jason Motte.

The Cardinals still would seem to be in the market for one more backup infielder after not tendering INF Ryan Theriot and seeing INF Nick Punto, who started frequently at second base in the postseason, moving to Boston.

BY THE NUMBERS: 142 - Games played by OF Carlos Beltran last season, one year after having serious knee surgery.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I'm looking for an opportunity to win a championship. That's I want in my career."

- Carlos Beltran, who never has played in a World Series.



The Cardinals are coming off a World Series title, but general manager John Mozeliak realizes the big turnaround in the season came in late July and early August when the club changed 20 percent of its roster with five additions. Now that first baseman Albert Pujols is gone, the Cardinals are entering a new era, and they replaced some of Pujols' offense by signing OF Carlos Beltran.




OF Carlos Beltran (free agent from Giants), LHP J.C. Romero (free agent from Rockies).




1B Albert Pujols (free agent, signed with Angels), RHP Octavio Dotel (free agent, signed with Tigers), C Gerald Laird (free agent, signed with Tigers), INF Nick Punto (free agent, signed with Red Sox).



RHPs Edwin Jackson, OF Corey Patterson, LHP Arthur Rhodes, INF Ryan Theriot.


RHP Kyle McClellan, RP Jason Motte.


OF Allen Craig (knee surgery) is out until May.

RHP Adam Wainwright is expected to go to Jupiter, Fla., just after Jan. 1 to begin throwing in earnest. He expects to be ready for spring training.

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