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Matheny likes the way Cards' bench shapes up

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PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Though the Cardinals' depth has been tested by several injuries this spring, they will open the season with a bench that features some experience, decent defensive versatility and one pretty intriguing bat.

The latter descriptor, of course, goes to Matt Adams, who will be on his first Opening Day roster. He finished spring with a team-high 17 RBIs, a total that ranked third best in the National League heading into Friday's slate of games. Adams hit .288 with five doubles and three home runs. He will provide depth at first base, as well as a left-handed bat off the bench.

Shane Robinson entered spring competing with outfielders Adron Chambers and Justin Christian for a bench spot and never gave his competition a chance. Robinson finished Grapefruit League play with a .438 average. Through Thursday, he led the league in doubles with nine and ranked second in on-base percentage (.500) and slugging percentage (.742).

"What Shane did made it very easy," manager Mike Matheny said. "What Matt Adams did this spring, to me, made it very easy. [The bench] really came together pretty well."

Ty Wigginton will give Matheny a veteran pinch-hit option that he didn't often have late last year. Tony Cruz will return as Yadier Molina's backup. And Ryan Jackson will open the season as the team's backup middle infielder. His stay will end when David Freese returns from the disabled list. At that point, Matt Carpenter or Daniel Descalso will oftentimes finish filling out the five-man bench.

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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