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Kozma, Cedeno look to fill void at shortstop

VIERA, Fla. -- With setbacks also come opportunities, and that is certainly what both Ronny Cedeno and Pete Kozma now see, given Sunday's news that Rafael Furcal has been shut down indefinitely due to inflammation in his right elbow.

With Furcal's readiness for the start of the season now in doubt, the Cardinals will spend the rest of spring evaluating what their next best option would be. Cedeno offers experience. Kozma has greater upside. General manager John Mozeliak described the situation on Sunday as "an open competition."

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Both players offered similar responses when asked to assess the changing landscape of the shortstop situation.

"I don't make the decisions, so I'm going to try and do the best I can and try to get an opportunity whenever [manager] Mike [Matheny] needs me," said Cedeno, who started at third base on Sunday.

"I need to take that time to take advantage as much as I can," Kozma said. "If he puts me in the lineup, I'm definitely going to give it my best shot."

Kozma didn't make much hard contact, but still went 3-for-3 on Sunday, boosting his spring average to .450. He said that it's the defensive side that is coming along more slowly, since he's reacting to balls off the bat for the first time in months.

Cedeno, on the other hand, is more heavily invested in his swing right now. Taking a suggestion from hitting coach John Mabry, Cedeno is attempting to shorten up his swing.

"My timing is off a little bit," said Cedeno, who is 2-for-15 in Grapefruit League play. "It's getting better. That's part of Spring Training, working on what I need to get ready for the season."

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