Cards' competition for 1B could heat up at camp

Moss, Adams have opportunity to prove themselves at Spring Training

Cards' competition for 1B could heat up at camp

ST. LOUIS -- Since taking over as Cardinals manager before the 2012 season, Mike Matheny has spoken candidly about his desire to foster as much competition as possible in Spring Training. This spring, however, most of those battles will have to be contrived.

When it comes to roster spots truly up for grabs, barring injury, there may be only two. One of those is in the bullpen, where the Cards will likely look to add a long reliever to the mix. There could also be one bench job up for grabs among the infielders, though Greg Garcia, because of his ability to play shortstop, has an advantage there.

That's not to suggest, though, that camp will be without intrigue.

Although there may not be a slew of spots available for the taking, there are starting jobs to secure. One of those is at first base, a competition that MLB.com has chosen to highlight as part of this week's continuing Spring Training preview series.

Comeback candidates | Newcomers | Prospects to watch

Over the coming days, Brandon Moss and Matt Adams will arrive in Jupiter, Fla., both with much to prove. Moss came to the Cardinals as part of a 2015 non-waiver Trade Deadline deal with the Indians that St. Louis hoped would infuse life into its dragging offense. Instead, Moss hit .250/.344/.409 and finished the year without an obvious fit in the starting lineup.

Moss is now more than a full year removed from right hip surgery and confident that the increased strength work he's done this winter will help him re-emerge as a legitimate power threat. He preceded 2015 with three consecutive 20-homer seasons and has added incentive for a big year in '16 given that he'll be a free agent at the end of it.

The Cardinals seem inclined to open the season with Moss as their starting first baseman. Adams, however, could alter those plans with a big spring showing.

Adams, too, is coming off a frustrating year, one that saw him hit .240/.280/.377 while limited to 175 at-bats. A late-May right quad strain sidelined him for most of the rest of the season and dropped him on the depth chart.

Adams can earn back the at-bats, but he's going to have to hit to do so. Even when healthy, Adams has not shown an ability to batter left-handed pitching with much consistency, as his career slash line of .197/.230/.317 vs. lefties indicates. Adams will have to elbow his way past Moss to get regular playing time again, but a strong spring could serve as a catalyst.

Pitchers and catchers report
Feb. 17

Full squad reports
Feb. 22

First Grapefruit League game
Home vs. Marlins, March 3 at 12:05 p.m. CT

Opening Day
Away vs. Pirates, April 3 at 12:05 p.m. CT

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