Rosenthal to remain closer; Martinez slated to start

Rosenthal to remain closer; Martinez slated to start

Rosenthal to remain closer; Martinez slated to start

ST. LOUIS -- Trevor Rosenthal has remained consistent in his request to get a chance to be a big league starter. The message the Cardinals gave the rookie right-hander before he went home for the winter, though, requires Rosenthal to put those dreams on further hold.

Manager Mike Matheny said he plans to open the 2014 season with Rosenthal as the team's closer, a role that Rosenthal assumed the final week of September and carried throughout the Cardinals' postseason run.

Certainly in play is the fact that the Cardinals seemingly have a plethora of starting pitchers. With more candidates than rotation spots available, the Cards are able to take one player out of that mix by pegging Rosenthal for the 'pen. Too, Rosenthal's immediate success as a closer on baseball's biggest stage left the organization confident that it has found Jason Motte's successor.

With Motte's recovery from Tommy John surgery expected to roll over into the 2014 season, the closer's spot will be one that needs filled.

"Right now there is no reason to go anywhere differently than how we ended," Matheny said. "Trevor Rosenthal is a guy who is going in there getting the saves for us. That's how we're heading into this spring. … Right now when you look at our club and what we have and what we have need for that bullpen is all based around our closer, and we have a lot of confidence in how he has been able to handle that position and that we move forward with him being that guy."

Rosenthal was being groomed as a future closer while serving as Edward Mujica's setup man for most of the regular season. He posted a 2.63 ERA and recorded 29 holds in 74 appearances. Then, for the second straight year, he had a scoreless postseason. Rosenthal allowed four hits while striking out 18 and saving four games in his 10 playoff appearances.

"When you look at just the short sample size of what Rosey did," general manager John Mozeliak said, "it's hard to imagine somebody that is much better than that at that position right now all across the board."

Carlos Martinez emerged as Rosenthal's setup man in October, but the Cardinals are not locked into keeping Martinez there. They intend to have the 22-year-old right-hander report to Spring Training competing to earn a starting job. If he cannot crack the rotation, then the Cards would consider sliding Martinez back into the bullpen.

"He's one of those guys that we gave that message to -- be prepared to start, get yourself ready, get opportunities," Matheny said. "Carlos is a guy that we believe will benefit from preparing to start, and as spring gets started and we see where we are, we see what kind of adjustments we need to make, we see what kind of adversity hits us, we can make a move at that point."

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