JUPITER, Fla. — With the Cardinals’ final roster decisions coming down to the final days of spring training, Alec Burleson picked a good night to have a good game.
Burleson, competing for a spot on the team’s bench, homered and doubled in the Cardinals’ win over the Nationals in West Palm Beach.
The injury that will force Paul DeJong to begin the regular-season on the injured list has opened an extra spot on the bench, with the likely final decision coming down to a choice between Burleson, a lefthanded batter, and Taylor Motter, who hits righthanded.
The two play different positions, but if the Cardinals are convinced that Brendan Donovan can be their backup shortstop, they likely can pick which player they think will be the better hitter coming off the bench.
Here is how Friday night’s game broke down:
High: After the announcements that Miles Mikolas will be the opening day starter and that he had agreed to a two-year contract extension, he worked seven innings, allowing only one unearned run.
Low: Nolan Gorman was hitless in five at-bats, striking out twice, and left five runners on base.
At the plate: In his first game back from the World Baseball Classic, Nolan Arenado singled in both of his at-bats, driving in a run … Masyn Winn also had a pair of hits … Burleson’s homer in the sixth inning broke a 1-1 tie … The Cardinals blew the game open with five runs in the ninth inning, which included an RBI single from Andrew Knizner.
On the mound: Mikolas scattered six hits, did not walk a batter and struck out two. It was his first start since pitching twice in relief in the WBC … Zack Thompson and Packy Naughton each worked a scoreless inning of relief.
Worth noting: The Cardinals intend to have their roster for opening day set by Sunday, when they will play in West Palm Beach then bus across the state to Sarasota for their final game of the spring on Monday against the Orioles.
Up next: The Cardinals have a pair of split-squad games on Saturday, taking on the Marlins in Jupiter and then playing a night game against the Mets in Port St. Lucie. They intend to get another look at several of the relievers who are competing for the final couple of spots in the bullpen. Genesis Cabrera will start the day game, Andre Pallante the night game.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains
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