Outlook: Waino has returned to ace form

JUPITER, Fla. -- Manager Mike Matheny said he wanted to avoid "any large announcement," but nevertheless let everyone in on the one piece of organizational planning that everyone already knew: Adam Wainwright will start for the club on Opening Day.

Matheny broached the topic as he talked about the reverse engineering that goes into determining when each starter will make his first Grapefruit League appearance. Wainwright plans to make five starts in March, and the Cardinals will order them so that he is set up for a season debut on March 31 in Cincinnati.

"We're trying to keep things on pace," Matheny said, "so that if things do play out that way throughout the spring that he's prepared to [start on Opening Day], has made enough starts and has had ample rest."

It was an anticlimactic revelation, for sure, as Wainwright was all along expected to be the first Cardinals pitcher to take the mound in 2014. The bona fide ace of the staff and a 19-game winner in 2013, Wainwright is also the only starting pitcher thus far ensured a place in the rotation.

This will mark Wainwright's second straight Opening Day assignment. He allowed four runs (three earned) on 11 hits in a six-inning loss to the Diamondbacks last season.

Carpenter not feeling pressure to boost power

Outlook: Carpenter contributes in all facets of game

JUPITER, Fla. -- Coming off a season in which he was the National League's most productive second baseman, Matt Carpenter now finds himself at a position more often associated with power output. Consider that 19 players connected for at least a dozen home runs as third basemen last season.

Carpenter, however, is coming off a season in which he hit 11. Yet, he remains entirely unconcerned about whether that number ticks higher, regardless of whatever mold a third baseman was once expected to fit.

"That's something that people have always asked about my game, and I definitely think there is some power in my swing that I haven't tapped into yet," Carpenter said. "When and where that shows up, I don't know. But at the end of the day, I'm not going to change who I am and what I do at the plate. If one season, I happen to run into 20 home runs, so be it. But at the end of the day, I'm going to continue to be the same guy and take the same at-bats."

Carpenter did show plenty of power in 2013, but it manifested itself in the form of doubles. He led the Majors with 55 and tallied 73 extra-base hits in total. The Cardinals would welcome a repeat of such production, which came during a season in which Carpenter also topped the NL in hits (199) and runs scored (126).

Carpenter has never hit more than 13 home runs in a season at any level and reached that figure only once -- back in 2010, his final full Minor League season. He had also never tallied more than 31 doubles in a year (also in 2010) until his breakout season in 2013.

"I'm a firm believer that in this game, when you try to do stuff, you're not going to be at your best," Carpenter said. "You have to let it come to you. I'm just going to continue to do what I do. If that turns into 30 doubles and 25 home runs, so be it. But if that continues to be more doubles than homers, that is what it will be. I'm not going to change."

Martinez to start Cards' first Grapefruit League game

Matheny on Spring Training pitching plans

JUPITER, Fla. -- The Cardinals will open Grapefruit League play Feb. 28 behind 22-year-old Carlos Martinez, whom manager Mike Matheny named his first spring starter Thursday. It will be the first Grapefruit League appearance for Martinez, who missed an opportunity to participate in exhibition games last season because of visa delays.

Martinez has come to camp trying to make his case for a home in the rotation. He is one of eight starters the Cardinals are considering for five spots. Also among those eight is Tyler Lyons, who will follow Martinez on the mound in that first game. Both pitchers are expected to throw two innings or about 45 pitches, whichever benchmark is reached first.

If the Cardinals don't make room in the rotation for Martinez, they'll consider his value in the bullpen, where Martinez showed himself to be a weapon last postseason. He was scored upon in just three of his 12 playoff appearances.

"He's a kid that has a lot of potential," Matheny said. "You see a kid with a lot of excitement and a lot of stuff. Now, that doesn't necessarily translate into someone who walks out there and instantly has success as a starter. We'll give him some opportunities and see how it plays out."

Interestingly, the Cardinals started Trevor Rosenthal in their first spring game a year ago before eventually sliding him into a setup role. Martinez could, conceivably, follow that same path.

Worth noting

• Though Major League Baseball recently approved a padded cap for pitchers, no Cardinals have plans to wear the hat this season. The cap, which is manufactured by the 4Licensing Corporation subsidiary isoBlox, was designed to help protect pitchers from line drives. It is optional to wear the hat at both the Major League and Minor League levels.

• For the first time in five days, lefty Kevin Siegrist returned to the mound Thursday to throw a bullpen session. Siegrist took a few days off from throwing after feeling some left-arm soreness Saturday. The minor setback will not affect Siegrist's readiness for the season.

• MLB Network announced that it will televise five of the Cardinals' Grapefruit League games this spring. Those telecast dates include Feb. 28 (vs. Miami), March 9 (at Washington), March 11 (vs. New York Mets), March 14 (at Houston) and March 19 (vs. Minnesota). Several other spring games will be shown on MLB Network as replays.

• With the Orioles' signing of Ubaldo Jimenez, Major League Baseball's Draft order has been revised. The Cardinals, who will select last in the first round, currently own the 28th overall pick. They have the 33rd selection, as well, as compensation for losing Carlos Beltran. With a second-round pick and a competitive balance selection coming after that, the Cardinals have positioned themselves with four of the first 72 picks.

This Draft order, however, is not yet written in pen. Four players -- Kendrys Morales, Ervin Santana, Nelson Cruz and Stephen Drew -- who were made qualifying offers, remain unsigned. Once they do land with new teams, Draft selections will be added and subtracted.

• The Cardinals announced Thursday that they are offering fans the chance to see the team play on the road through a pair of vacation packages that coincide with the Cardinals' series in Los Angeles (June 26-29) and Chicago (July 25-27). For details on the offers, visit cardinals.com/vacations.