JUPITER, Fla. --Shelby Miller's and Joe Kelly's next opportunities to make impressions will be Tuesday.
Miller will start and Kelly will follow when the St. Louis Cardinals play Miami at Roger Dean Stadium. The team will be idle Wednesday, meaning there would likely be just one more spring assignment, probably March 26, for Miller and Kelly.
Miller and Kelly are competing for the fifth-starter's job, and manager Mike Matheny isn't yet showing his hand. Kelly had seemed to gain the upper hand last week, but with Miller getting another start, it's apparent he hasn't been ruled out.
If the Cardinals select Miller as the fifth starter, Kelly could slide into the bullpen as a long reliever at the big-league level.
If Kelly earns the starter's job, it's not likely Miller would remain with the major-league club since the Cardinals would prefer he gather starts, accumulate innings and gain more experience at Class AAA Memphis.
Third baseman David Freese missed his third straight game with lingering back sorness.
Freese said Sunday morning that the back felt better than it did Saturday and that he will not undergo an MRI.
"I feel good," Freese said. "Obviously, this thing's going to heal up. It's just a muscle thing. The tailbone is bruised a little bit, but everything's intact. I have my motion. I just need to get the aggravation out. The important date is April 1 when we get going. So we'll be good."
Freese lifted weights and participated in on-field drills before the game Sunday. He has not targeted a return date.
"We'll see," he said. "I'm just going to take it day by day. The back is an important thing, so we're going to make sure it's all right."
Freese and Matheny are on the same page.
"It's spring training, so we're being cautious," Matheny said.
Adams waiting, hoping
First baseman Matt Adams has no idea which direction the Cardinals are leaning about what his role will be this season.
Adams could be in St. Louis as a backup first baseman and pinch-hitter or he could find himself back in Memphis.
"I feel good this spring," Adams said Sunday before the Cardinals lost to Miami 6-0. "I'm having some pretty good ABs and playing pretty good defense. I'll take on whatever role the club wants me to take on, whether it's going back down to Memphis and get my ABs regularly or come off the bench as a late-inning hitter (in St. Louis).
"Whatever they have in mind for me, I'll do."
Adams, 24, is batting .308 (12-for-39) with two home runs and eight RBIs in 16 games this spring. He batted .329 with 22 doubles, 18 homers and 50 RBIs in 67 games last year at Memphis.
Adams underwent season-ending right-elbow surgery Aug. 14 to remove bone spurs. He had a 27-game stint with the Cardinals from May 20 to June 21 after Lance Berkman's knee injury, batting .244 (21-for-86) with six doubles, two homers and 13 RBIs.
"I've just got to continue to keep going out daily and getting my work in and trying to get better each day," Adams said. "If I do make that roster, I'll be ready for that role."
Adams also understands he could be used as trade bait if the Cardinals determine they need to make a move to shore up the middle infield. He's open to anything.
"There are a lot of rumors floating around out there," Adams said. "Right now, that's all there is. I've got to keep my head on straight and continue to go about my business the way I have been. If I get a phone call saying I've been traded, then I go with that team that picked me up. If not, then I stay here and try to contribute to this team. ... You've got to go with the flow."
Lance Lynn started against Miami on Sunday and was charged with five runs (earned) and nine hits in 3 2/3 innings. Lynn walked two and struck out one.
The Marlins did most of their damage in the third when they sent eight batters to the plate and score three runs on five hits.
"It was just one of those days where everything that was put in play was a hit," Lynn said. "When I jammed a guy, it was a hit. When I threw a bad pitch, it was a hit.
"It was one of those things where I had good movement. I just didn't exactly get the pitch where I wanted it to be today. The luxury I have is I've got two more (starts) until things start mattering."
Lynn is 1-3 with a 7.50 ERA in four spring starts, and he's allowed 20 hits in 12 innings, with three walks and five strikeouts.
Boggs in form
Reliever Mitchell Boggs pitched a scoreless seventh in his first game since returning from the World Baseball Classic.
"I felt good," Boggs said. "My command was good, my 'splittie' was good, my breaking ball was good. It's good to be back."
Boggs began throwing the splitter last season, but said it's a more effective weapon than it has been in the past.
"It's definitely a pitch I'm going to be conscious of as far as using it as a weapon," he said. "I think it's going to enhance what I'm wanting to do. It's a grip that's gotten comfortable for me and I'll let it ride."
After the game Sunday, right-handed pitcher Keith Butler and infielder Ryan Jackson were optioned to Memphis. Left-hander John Gast was reassigned to minor-league camp.
The Cardinals' roster stands at 40 players with two weeks to go before Opening Day.
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2665.