With a year in the Cardinals' rotation under his belt, right-hander Lance Lynn came into Spring Training confident in his ability and aware of the challenges the 2013 season will bring.
"I know what I need to do in between starts, what I need to do as the season goes on," Lynn said. "Last year, I kind of was just flipping a coin seeing what it was going to be like since I had never really done it before at that level. I'm looking forward to knowing what I'm getting myself into."
He'll take the mound for the first time this season on Wednesday as the Cardinals square off against the D-backs at Chase Field in the series finale.
Despite an 18-win 2012 campaign, Lynn hasn't let success go to his head. He arrived at Spring Training 40 pounds lighter and finished 2-3 with a 4.94 ERA in 23 2/3 Grapefruit League innings.
"He had his first one last year and he developed that routine," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. "This one was a little different for him because he had a different body to work with. It makes a pretty drastic difference -- we talked about the mechanical changes he needed to make in order to find that consistent release point. Now he's just got to work to maintain."
Lynn will face new D-backs right-hander Brandon McCarthy, who signed a two-year deal as a free agent during the offseason. In the American League for the last seven seasons, Wednesday will mark his first career start against the Cardinals.
McCarthy, who ranks fifth in the Majors since 2010 with just 1.57 walks per nine innings, added a changeup to his arsenal this spring.
"I felt like I was able to do some things I wanted to do with it," McCarthy said after his last Spring Training game. "I was able to set a lot of guys up with it. It creates a new layer for me."
Cardinals: Freese waiting for green light
While Matheny continues to receive encouraging reports about David Freese's progress down in Florida, he's not ready to promise the third baseman a place in the team's lineup for Monday's home opener.
That game remains a target for Freese to come off the disabled list, though he still has a few hurdles to clear. One of the most important ones will be his ability to play nine pain-free innings and then recover appropriately. He didn't play nine innings in a Grapefruit League game.
"We're not ruling out that he'll be there on Monday, but we're also not ruling out that he might need a little more time," Matheny said. "We're looking everything over. He's really kind of pushing the envelope of trying to be ready by Monday, and we wanted him to kind of push that. But we need to make sure that he's ready to play a full game before we risk bringing him back to St. Louis."
D-backs: Kubel rests left leg
Less than one day after tallying two hits and driving in a run in the D-backs' 6-2 Opening Day win over the Cardinals, left fielder Jason Kubel was out of Tuesday's starting lineup resting his left leg, which bothered him occasionally during Spring Training.
"Kubel had been a little bit gimpy on and off in the spring, so it just kind of makes sense," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said before the game. "I thought he had a good productive day on Monday and he'll be back in there tomorrow, I'd expect."
Kubel's respite only lasted until the sixth inning, however, as he pinch-hit with the bases loaded, striking out against Edward Mujica to end the frame.
• On the 15-day disabled list with a strained right elbow, D-backs shortstop prospect Didi Gregorius will join Triple-A Reno when its season begins on Thursday. Initially, Gregorius will only pinch-hit and DH, but the D-backs hope by April 15 he'll be able to play defense and begin building up innings.
• The Cardinals' 81 home runs all-time at Chase Field (in 56 games) are the most by any team outside of the National League West.
• The D-backs' 93-71 home record since 2011 is the NL's sixth-best mark.
Quinn Roberts is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.