JUPITER, Fla. -- The projected composition of the Cardinals' bench became much clearer on Tuesday with the organization's announcement that it has released middle infielder Ronny Cedeno.
Indications that Cedeno would be squeezed out of a roster spot began soon after it was announced the Rafael Furcal needed season-ending surgery. That's somewhat ironic, given that Cedeno was signed late in the offseason as insurance in case anything happened to Furcal.
However, rather than usher in a competition between Cedeno and Pete Kozma for the starting shortstop job, the Cardinals were immediate in anointing Kozma as the replacement. Daniel Descalso's ability to play short then gave the Cardinals the flexibility to take a bench spot away from Cedeno and give it to someone else -- most likely, Matt Adams.
"It surprised me a little bit, but it's part of baseball," said Cedeno. "I don't have control of that. I only have control of myself and can work hard. I think they were going in a different direction."
Cedeno signed a one-year, $1.15 million contract with the Cardinals on Jan. 29. Because that salary was not fully guaranteed, the Cardinals are only obligated to pay just under one-quarter of it by releasing Cedeno before the start of the season. That puts the club on the hook for about $284,050.
The organization also felt it fair to send Cedeno out now so that he has an opportunity to seek employment elsewhere. The Cardinals did not offer Cedeno the option of accepting a Minor League assignment.
"I think as we were trying to put it all together, it wasn't fair to drag him on," manager Mike Matheny said. "This gives him an opportunity to still catch on with somebody else when it became apparent which direction we were going. We are just trying to do, one, what's best for our club, and two, what's right for the other guy."
With Cedeno out of the mix, the Cardinals have a bench opening to keep Adams, who is batting .304 with three homers and 12 RBIs this spring. He hit .329 with 22 doubles, 18 homers and 50 RBIs in 67 Triple-A games last season. The left-handed hitting Adams would serve as another backup option at first base.
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.