The Cardinals moved one step closer to finalizing their bench for opening day by walking away from the veteran they once thought could be a starter.

The Cardinals granted shortstop Ronny Cedeno his outright release Tuesday afternoon, less than two months after the team signed him to a one-year, $1.15 million contract.

Cedeno, a former everyday shortstop for Pittsburgh, was positioned to be Rafael Furcal’s backup and, when the switch-hitting starter had elbow surgery, his potential replacement. Rookie Pete Kozma instead won that job, and the Cardinals opted to give Cedeno a chance to sign elsewhere.

“It wasn’t fair to drag him on,” manager Mike Matheny said. This “gives him the opportunity to still catch on with somebody else when it became apparent which direction we were going to go. … We feel good with what we have in that department.”

Many factors and several standout performances this spring contributed to the Cardinals’ decision. Matt Carpenter’s proficiency at his new position, second base, meant that in addition to sharing time at that position Daniel Descalso could be counted on to back up shortstop.

Kozma has been steady in the field this spring while also batting .341 through his first 14 games. And rookie slugger Matt Adams has hit three home runs and slugged .565 during spring. Having Descalso as the backup shortstop as well as part-time starter at second base would allow the Cardinals to carry Adams and Ty Wigginton as the lefthanded and righthanded options off the bench, respectively.