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Garcia makes his case

Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan has maintained that Jaime Garcia isn't ready to start in the majors. But, apparently, no one has told Garcia that.

The young lefty pitched three more shutout innings Tuesday in a 4-2 split squad loss to the Nationals, allowing one hit and one walk while striking out seven. His spring ERA dropped to 1.04 in 8 2/3 innings. Overall, he's allowed three hits and struck out five. But his control has been a little bit off with five walks.

It may be telling that Garcia has had twice as many innings this spring as rotation candidate Rich Hill who has a 4.50 ERA with six hits allowed in four innings pitched.

Ryan Franklin had a much better outing, pitching a non-eventful inning in which he allowed no hits and struck out a pair.

Ryan Ludwick and Nich Stavinoha -- the latter who is making a dark horse bid for a major league roster spot with a .400 batting average this spring -- each had a pair of hits in the game. Stavinoha's primary competition, Joe Mather, was 1-for-3 in the game to bring his spring average to .286. But he showed his value in another way, playing three positions: First, third and -- most importantly -- centerfield.

The Cardinals can find help at the infield corners. But the only legit back up centerfielder on the roster happens to be second baseman Skip Schumaker.