10 ex-Cards middle infielders still trying

A number of former St. Louis Cardinals second basemen and shortstops continue to fight for jobs with Major League Baseball clubs.

Since the 2006 post-season, when the St. Louis Cardinals' starting middle infield was Ronnie Belliard and David Eckstein, the club has employed a revolving door of players at second base and shortstop.

Most of them have since moved on.

Furcal to lead off for Miami
This spring, nine middle infielders with the Cardinals in recent years will be attending their first training camps with new teams. A tenth has been rumored to be making a comeback, Adam Kennedy, but has not yet signed. Five are on 40-man rosters, with four in camps to fight for jobs as non-roster invitees.

Only one of the 10, Rafael Furcal in Miami, is penciled into a starting role heading into camp. Nick Punto appears to be in contention for a piece of a second-base platoon in Oakland. The others should probably set their sights on a reserve spot.

The former Cardinals middle infielders are listed in the table below by the years they were with St. Louis, starting with the most current.

Middle infielder 2014 team Status Cardinals
Rafael Furcal Marlins 40-man roster 2011-13
Ryan Jackson Padres 40-man roster 2012-13
Ronny Cedeno Phillies non-roster invitee spring 2013
Skip Schumaker Reds 40-man roster 2009-12*
Tyler Greene Braves non-roster invitee 2009-12
Nick Punto A's 40-man roster 2011
Brendan Ryan Yankees 40-man roster 2007-10
Joe Thurston Brewers non-roster invitee 2009
Cesar Izturis Astros non-roster invitee 2008
Adam Kennedy   comeback attempt '99, '07-08
* as infielder      

The club's recent difficulties at shortstop are underlined by the names in the table, the majority of which played that position primarily. Neither a procession of free agents nor a series of home-grown prospects (Brendan Ryan, then Tyler Greene, then Ryan Jackson) panned out for any extended period.

Along with the 10 names above, another eight Cardinals middle infielders have retired. Ryan Theriot was latest to join the group earlier this off-season. Others to have hung up their cleats previously include Miguel Cairo, Felipe Lopez, Aaron Miles, Julio Lugo and Khalil Greene, plus of course, the aforementioned pair from 2006, Belliard and Eckstein.

The list does not include Ty Wigginton, who will be in Marlins' camp on a non-roster deal. Though a part-time second baseman in his earlier days, the 2013 Cardinals flop has been a corner infielder in recent years. The majority of Wigginton's 2014 salary will be paid by St. Louis.

Time will tell if the Cardinals' new up-the-middle trio for 2014 of Kolten Wong, Mark Ellis and Jhonny Peralta can break the recent turnover pattern.

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Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnationblog.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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