JUPITER, Fla. -- Manager Mike Matheny shut down the Cardinals' spring complex on Friday, allowing players to take the day off before returning for the start of the Grapefruit League schedule on Saturday.
When the Cards take the field for their Grapefruit League opener against the Marlins at 12:05 p.m. CT (in a game that will be shown live on MLB.TV), it will have been 147 days since the club was eliminated from postseason contention. Since then, there have been impactful additions (Dexter Fowler, Brett Cecil), notable subtractions (Matt Holliday, Brandon Moss) and a renewed focus on fundamentals.
The Cardinals' Grapefruit League season will take them through March 29, at which point they'll depart for a pair of exhibition games at affiliate locations in advance of an April 2 season opener against the defending World Series champion Cubs.
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There are roster spots to settle and roles to define before then, however, and that process will take place over the next five weeks. The competition for the final spot in the rotation will take center stage right away, too.
Luke Weaver, a darkhorse candidate for the rotation, will start for the Cards on Saturday against Miami's Edinson Volquez. The former first-round pick made nine starts for St. Louis last season and would be a rotation option out of camp if Michael Wacha or any of the other projected starters stumble or find themselves sidelined.
Others scheduled to pitch in the opener include trade acquisition John Gant, lefty Austin Gomber and closer Seung Hwan Oh. This will be Oh's lone appearance before departing for the World Baseball Classic. Oh's Korean team begins Classic play on March 6.
Though Saturday's game will be played at Roger Dean Stadium, it will be considered a Cardinals road game. The Cards and Marlins will swap sides on Sunday, when St. Louis hosts Miami at the same venue. Mike Mayers has been slated to start that game for the Cardinals. Wacha (road) and Lance Lynn (home) have been named starters for Monday's split-squad games.
Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.