Challenge for Choate is getting in work vs. lefties

Cards to start scripting chances for reliever on back fields

Challenge for Choate is getting in work vs. lefties

JUPITER, Fla. -- Knowing they'll be deploying reliever Randy Choate primarily against left-handed batters this season, the Cardinals are about to get creative so that he can face a flurry of them to finish spring.

It's been a challenge to script those matchups recently, as opposing managers have often utilized their limitless spring rosters to pinch-hit for any lefty batters that Choate has been scheduled to face. As a result, the Cardinals intend to start scripting some opportunities for Choate to face a line of lefties on a practice field. Manager Mike Matheny said that will likely start as early as Monday.

"We need to get him back there," Matheny said. "I know that's something he gets a lot out of."

Matheny was able to find Choate some opportunities against left-handed hitters in Sunday's 3-2 loss against the Mets. He entered in the fifth inning to face Curtis Granderson, who doubled into the right-field corner. After intentionally walking David Wright, Choate allowed a single to Lucas Duda.

"I would imagine he's going to really want to [throw on Monday] now," Matheny said afterward.

Other news and notes from the day:

• Though he fell behind the first two batters he faced, Kevin Siegrist completed a 1-2-3 inning in relief on Sunday. Matheny confirmed that, contrary to the fickle radar gun at Spring Training, Siegrist has had a consistent fastball velocity of 93-95 mph this spring. That is a few mph slower than what he was throwing two seasons ago.

Jason Heyward and Matt Holliday pulled off a first-inning double steal, pushing the Cardinals' spring stolen base total to 26. That ranks highest in the Majors for a club that ranked 28th in the Majors with 57 last season.

• Veteran right-hander Carlos Villanueva can opt out of his Minor League contract on Monday if he doesn't receive a commitment from the Cardinals that he will be on the team's Opening Day roster. The Cardinals plan to address the situation with Villanueva before a decision is made.

• Matheny said he is not yet ready to announce his rotation plans for the team's opening series in Chicago. Adam Wainwright is likely to draw the Opening Day start as long as he gets through his outing on Tuesday without issue.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB and like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.