JUPITER, Fla. -- Before the opening of Grapefruit League play, there were seven big questions the Cardinals needed to answer during the 28-game spring slate. Nearly three weeks in, the club has already crossed some of those off the list. Others still require clarity.
With the Cards enjoying their final off-day of Spring Training before the push to Opening Day, it seems appropriate to revisit those seven questions.
1. What will become of Jaime Garcia?
The left-hander has thrust himself into the rotation competition by showing himself healthy and effective again. The Cardinals don't have the time to determine whether he has the durability, but with each outing Garcia makes, the Cards believe a little bit more that he could be a factor this season.
2. When will Adam Wainwright make his Grapefruit League debut?
Wainwright made that debut last Saturday and threw 64 pitches over four scoreless innings. By continuing with a throwing program while he let his abdominal strain heal, he positioned himself to be ready to draw the Opening Day start. Wainwright will start again on Thursday and one more time next week. If all goes well, he's expected to take the mound at Wrigley Field on April 5.
3. Can Kevin Siegrist master his new mechanics?
Siegrist has shown flashes of dominance, but not the consistency to go with it. The Cardinals may decide that's enough to warrant a spot back in the Major League bullpen, but that doesn't necessarily mean the club has found its start-of-the-season lefty setup guy.
4. Will Carlos Martinez seize a rotation job?
Martinez has pitched well, but not well enough to shake Marco Gonzales and Garcia from this mix. This remains a three-man competition, though the Cards will have to pare down the candidates soon since there are not enough spring innings to go around.
5. Who will emerge from a crowded utility infielder competition?
With the versatility several players have shown this spring, the Cardinals have a number of ways they could construct their bench. Shortstop Pete Kozma seems a lock for one job. That likely leaves three other candidates -- Ty Kelly, Randal Grichuk and Peter Bourjos -- for the final two openings.
6. How long until Jon Jay is cleared for game play?
Jay made his Grapefruit League debut on March 20, seemingly giving him enough time to get ready by Opening Day. Jay is expected to make up for the lost at-bats by playing regularly throughout the rest of the spring schedule.
7. How will the Cardinals sift through their plethora of lefty relief options?
The lefty relievers haven't exactly distinguished themselves. Siegrist is still searching for consistent mechanics, while Sam Freeman has continued to have command issues. Randy Choate will be on the club as a lefty specialist. The club is also evaluating whether Gonzales or Garcia could be a fit.