PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Brad Thompson is finally going to start a Grapefruit League game.

Thompson pitched two innings in relief on Saturday against the Mets, which sets him up to start on Wednesday against the Orioles. It will be the first career Spring Training start for Thompson, who has competed for the starting rotation the past two springs without actually starting any games.

"It would be nice to get a start in and start building that pitch count," said Thompson, who is vying for one of what will likely be two available spots in the Cardinals' five-man rotation. "If I'm really fighting for that job, I need to get my pitch count up."

The move has an added benefit for the Cardinals, as well. It moves Braden Looper back an extra day in addition to the bonus day of rest Looper will get with the team's off-day on Tuesday.

That means Looper will have six days of rest between starts, allowing him to throw two bullpen sessions. Looper has been struggling, so he will use the extra throwing sessions as an opportunity to resolve his troubles.

"[Looper] knows what he has to do," said pitching coach Dave Duncan.

"It's more his mental approach than it is anything physical," Duncan said. "Physically, he's thrown a lot of balls at the top of the strike zone, but I think it's more his mental approach than anything physical."

Looper will pitch on Thursday, followed by Adam Wainwright on Friday. Kyle Lohse will likely make his Cardinals spring debut on Saturday, March 22.