Rosenthal no longer in mix for Cards' rotation

JUPITER, Fla. -- The competition for the last opening in the Cardinals' rotation is down to two, as Trevor Rosenthal has been notified that he is now targeted for a bullpen spot. Rosenthal was told of the organization's decision on Wednesday, after he threw two scoreless innings in relief.

"He did a really good job preparing this spring to come in and start, and had a little bit different repertoire in the way he was using his pitches," manager Mike Matheny said. "His value to do so many different things for us in the bullpen was something we put such a value on that we didn't really want to delay going in that direction any further. Now we're preparing to give him the rest he needs to get back into that program."

While Rosenthal is technically still competing for a roster spot, every indication is that the Cardinals intend to carry him on the Opening Day roster. General manager John Mozeliak went so far as to say he'd be "shocked" if Rosenthal isn't among the 25 players to break camp with the Major League club.

Rosenthal entered Spring Training as one of three pitchers -- along with Joe Kelly and Shelby Miller -- vying for the same rotation spot. With Rosenthal now out of the mix, the Cardinals will have an easier time finding opportunities for all of the team's starters to get their needed game work.

"I told them I'm excited to do whatever I can to help out the team," said Rosenthal, ranked as the organization's fourth-best prospect coming into the season. "It is exciting having the role I had last year. Hopefully down the line, I'll have an opportunity to start again."

The Cardinals have not ruled that out and actually would use Rosenthal as a starter if he unexpectedly winds up starting the season in Triple-A. For now, though, the organization wants to further explore the potential benefits of including Rosenthal in the bullpen.

Rosenthal, 22, made his Major League debut as a reliever in 2012. He posted a 2.78 ERA in 19 regular-season appearances before giving the Cardinals 8 2/3 innings of scoreless relief in the postseason. His fastball regularly registered triple digits in that role.

With Rosenthal, the Cardinals believe they have a hard-throwing righty who can find a fit in the late-inning mix, along with setup men Edward Mujica and Mitchell Boggs.

"Having someone like a Rosenthal come in, it's dynamic," Mozeliak said. "You just look at the impact he had out of the bullpen for us. It just seemed to be the right fit for us."

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.