Cards Almost Complete 25-Man Roster

There were no surprises over the St. Louis Cardinals' roster moves made after Wednesday's game as they move (almost) to the level of 25 players needed to start the regular season.

With the decision by the St. Louis Cardinals to keep outfielder Skip Schumaker and option John Rodriguez to Memphis, there is just one roster spot in contention – the final man in the bullpen. Indications are that it is a competition between right-hander Josh Hancock and left-hander Ricardo Rincon.

The latter seems the likely one to go. In recent seasons, the Cardinals have usually opened the season with five right-handers and two lefties in the pen. With left-handers Randy Flores and Tyler Johnson seemingly set, all fingers seem to be pointing at Rincon. The Cardinals should be able to readily locate a trading partner for the veteran, set to earn $1.45 million this season in the second year of his two-year contract.

Other moves made Wednesday were also expected - right-handed pitcher Dennis Dove was optioned to Memphis and non-roster invitees infielder Jolbert Cabrera and right-hander Kelvin Jimenez were both reassigned to Memphis.

In addition, three players were put on the 15-day disabled list to start the season - pitchers Mark Mulder and Josh Kinney plus outfielder Juan Encarnacion.

Schumaker earned his spot in the majors based on his team-leading .400 batting average this spring as well as his defensive versatility. With Jim Edmonds expected to be ready to go in centerfield, but perhaps not yet 100%, Schumaker is the best choice with the glove, too.

However, the 27-year-old left-handed hitter's time in the majors may be limited, just as it was last season, when he also made the club coming out of spring training. Regular right fielder Encarnacion's wrist has been slow to heal after off-season surgery. But, when he does return, someone will have to go. That could be Schumaker, who has minor league options remaining.

As of now, the Cardinals 25-man season-opening roster looks to shape up this way:

Starting eight: Molina, Pujols, Kennedy, Eckstein, Rolen, Duncan, Edmonds, Spiezio.
Bench five: Miles, Wilson, Taguchi, Bennett, Schumaker.
Starting rotation (five): Carpenter, Wells, Wainwright, Reyes, Looper.
Bullpen seven: Isringhausen, Thompson, Franklin, Springer, Flores, Johnson, Hancock/Rincon.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at

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