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Descalso's versatility helps in utility infielder battle

Descalso's versatility helps in utility infielder battle

JUPITER, Fla. -- With Pete Kozma set to serve as the Cardinals' starting shortstop until further notice, the club will use the last two weeks of Spring Training to assess their backup options at the position.

Daniel Descalso made his first start of the spring at short in Monday's 3-2 loss to the Mets and looked steady with every chance he had in the field. The position isn't entirely new for him -- Descalso started 31 games there during his career -- but it also isn't as natural a spot as second and third base are for the versatile infielder.

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"I have played a decent amount over there where I'm getting more comfortable," Descalso said. "It's not as hard for me to bounce around now as when I first came up. Yesterday, I had my day off, so I knew I was playing short today and I did my work there. I got some work in this morning and I was good to go after that."

The Cardinals seem to have no trepidation in using Descalso at the position, which means he could provide the insurance they need behind Kozma. That would seemingly put Ronny Cedeno's hold on a roster spot in jeopardy. Manager Mike Matheny reiterated Monday that it is not a necessity for the club to keep three players capable of playing shortstop on the Major League roster.

If the Cardinals release Cedeno, who signed a $1.15 million contract with the team in January, they would create space for another position player on the bench. That other position player would likely be Matt Adams, who brings a big bat, but little defensive versatility.

"We're just looking to continue to watch him and see how he fits in," Matheny said of Cedeno.

Both Descalso and second baseman du jour Matt Carpenter impressed defensively against the Mets. They helped turned two double plays, one of which had Descalso throwing to second from deep in the hole.

"Our middle there was very good," Matheny said. "Carp made a couple great turns [at second], and Daniel's feeds were right on the money on some tough angles. He looked very good out there."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. 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.

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