The news that Tyler Johnson will likely miss Opening Day puts the club down one more reliever, on top of the domino effect from starter Matt Clement being behind schedule. Clement's unavailability will probably push one potential reliever -- either Brad Thompson or Todd Wellemeyer -- into the rotation.
Four relievers appear set: Jason Isringhausen, Russ Springer, Ryan Franklin and Randy Flores. Additionally, the loser of the starting competition between Wellemeyer and Thompson will probably be in the 'pen.
That still leaves two spots, one of which will probably go to non-roster pitcher Ron Villone. However, Villone is now probably regarded as a left-handed specialist, rather than a versatile, multi-role reliever.
"It really comes down to what you need," manager Tony La Russa said. "That's why I don't take him out of the specialist category if you need him as a specialist. You're not going to burn him with a bunch of innings."
The switch in Villone's role means it's extremely unlikely the Cardinals will carry three left-handed relievers. If Villone had been available to pitch long relief, three lefties would have been possible. But with Villone and Flores both likely used in a short role, the final spot would need to go to a long reliever.
New system: The Cardinals used a new method in signing their pre-arbitration-eligible players this year, players commonly known as "zero-to-threes."
In the case of every player not yet eligible for arbitration, the Cardinals computed a salary offer based on a combination of service time and performance. The numbers were established on a set scale, with no subjective criteria included. Each player was presented with the number and had the option of accepting it or being renewed.
Of the 18 players in the zero-to-three category, 16 accepted the offer. Only Anthony Reyes and Adam Wainwright declined, and as a result each was renewed at a salary also determined by the club.
Ludwick held out: A day after taking a pitch off his helmet, Ryan Ludwick was kept out of the lineup on Thursday.
"I wanted to be careful with him," La Russa said. "I'm going to try and keep him out of there."
Ludwick homered and singled twice, in addition to the hit-by-pitch. He said he had no pain or fogginess on Thursday morning.
"I feel great," he said. "I went home and drank a bunch of water. I had a small headache afterwards. But I didn't even take any Tylenol or anything."
Generous gesture: The Cardinals raised a total of $17,600 for families of the victims of the recent shootings in Kirkwood, Mo. The club wore Kirkwood High School caps in its exhibition game against St. Louis University, then auctioned off the caps to benefit the community.
"The Cardinals are impressed with fans' generosity and we're happy to have been in the middle to help the families," said Tim Hanser, Cardinals vice president of community outreach. "The dollars are great, but it's the feeling that the fans, the Cardinals, the players, that we care. I think, in some ways, the fact that everyone rallied around is maybe more important than anything."
Two more cuts: St. Louis completed its second round of cuts on Thursday. Catchers Bryan Anderson and Gabe Johnson were both re-assigned to the Minor Leagues, leaving 51 players in camp. The next round of cuts is expected after the team's two-day trip to Orlando, Fla., on Sunday and Monday.
First concert: New Busch Stadium will host its first concert this summer. The Dave Matthews Band announced on its Web site that it will play at Busch on June 7. The Black Crowes will be the opening act, according to that band's Web site.
Bits and pieces: Virtually every position player in camp will go on the trip to Orlando. ... La Russa was proud to report that his Animal Rescue Foundation has been rated a four-star charity by Charity Navigator, the watchdog group's highest rating. ... Monday's game against the Braves will be carried on FSN Midwest, though the Braves' broadcast team will call the game.
Weather report: The forecast calls for a hot one at Dodgertown on Friday. The high temperature is expected to reach 85 degrees with a few clouds and plenty of humidity.
Coming up: Joel Pineiro will make his Grapefruit League debut on Friday, when he pitches against the Dodgers in Vero Beach, Fla. Pineiro was held out of his first scheduled start due to stiffness in his right shoulder. First pitch is set for 12:05 p.m. CT.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.