ST. LOUIS -- Last September, Pete Kozma was an integral piece to the Cardinals' late-season run, solidifying the shortstop position and providing a spark in the lineup.
Fast forward one year and Kozma finds himself in a much different situation. The 25-year-old is seeing the field sparingly, and what was previously a time share at short has shifted mostly in Daniel Descalso's favor.
Though Descalso had started the last nine games prior to Tuesday, Kozma isn't entirely out of the mix. Kozma has seen time as a late-game defensive substitute or as a pinch-runner and pinch-hitter.
"Pete's been great at short all year for us," Descalso said. "For us to be able to bring him in a close and late game when we're ahead is a nice luxury to have."
In an effort to keep him sharp and add another right-handed bat to the lineup, Kozma was given the starting nod Tuesday versus Washington left-hander Gio Gonzalez.
"I like how we've been using him. I think it has fit really well," manager Mike Matheny said. "Danny's been doing a great job, but we also got to keep Pete engaged so that when we do put him in the games, he's ready to go."
While he would certainly prefer to resume being an everyday player, Kozma said he's just happy to help out his club in whatever capacity he can.
"[Matheny is] the manager, he knows better than I do," Kozma said. "He's been in the big leagues longer than me. If he feels comfortable putting me in there, then I feel comfortable being in there."
Chad Thornburg is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.