It easily could be said that the Cardinals entered the regular season with more problems than they had entering spring training.
Leaving alone the elephant in the room -- that first baseman Albert Pujols still is unsigned beyond this season -- the Cardinals find themselves trying to replace co-No. 1 starter Adam Wainwright, who will miss the season after having had Tommy John elbow surgery.
Right-hander Kyle McClellan, plucked from the bullpen, was one of the top starters in baseball in spring training, giving up just two runs in 23 innings.
But the issue was not that McClellan could fill a starting role. It was whether the bullpen would be strong enough without him, notably since both right-hander Mitchell Boggs and Jason Motte were inconsistent this spring.
The rotation should be solid enough with traditional Opening Day pitcher Chris Carpenter to start on Thursday, followed by right-hander Jake Westbrook, left-hander Jaime Garcia, right-hander Kyle Lohse and McClellan. Lohse, who had a strong spring, might be one of the surprises of the season if he remains healthy after being bothered with forearm problems in the last two seasons.
Third baseman David Freese, who missed the second half of last season because of foot problems that resulted in surgeries on both ankles, answered any questions about his ability to bounce back with a strong spring. Whether Freese can hold up playing every day still is a debate.
A bigger debate is whether 35-year-old Lance Berkman is the answer in right field. Berkman, who hasn't played the outfield on a regular basis in the last half-dozen years, homered in his first spring at-bat but had just one extra-base hit thereafter and had to overcome ailments to his left elbow and left calf this spring.
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