When you are trying to make up for lost time and needing to do so at more than one position, you can’t ask for a much better circumstance than what Matt Carpenter received on Sunday afternoon. The St. Louis Cardinals infielder was tested right away as he played three innings at third base and then slid over for a couple more at second.
“To see some work, see what it looks like, and for me to get a feel for it, you want as much action as you can get,” said Carpenter. “A perfect day of work right there, no doubt about it.”
Besides the defensive looks of the ball off the bat, Carpenter was also able to utilize his new throwing motion to ease the stress on his shoulder.
“Good, I was able to do what I wanted and no issues,” said Carpenter, who besides the throws to first also fired to second in a double play. “It’s nice to be able to test it with different angles and different plays.”
Not to be overlooked, Carpenter also scored from first on a double by Jose Martinez. Agility and speed had also been a focus this offseason.
“Got a good jump on a good swing by Josey and was able to get in there,” said Carpenter. “I think we have a chance to be a good base running club.”
With a walk and a single, Carpenter has now reached base in seven of his ten plate appearances this spring. And he’s still seeing a lot of pitches–for example seven before he drew the pass from Washington on Sunday. It’s all part of his renewed philosophy at the plate.
“There’s a lesson to be learned in that I was convicted in my day and really this whole season to not try and hit home runs,” said Carpenter.
“First day that I get a chance to play after making that comment, I hit one so it’s a good teaching point that you don’t have to try to chase power. If you take good, short swings it will come on it’s own.”
It’s only been four games, but so far things have gone exactly as planned.
“Yeah, it’s always nice to have a good result whether it’s Spring Training or in the season, but it’s the process that’s more important,” said Carpenter. “You putting in the quality work and going up there and having a competitive at-bat. If you can do that everyday, that’s what you’re looking for. The results will come and it’s nice to have them, but that’s not what I’m chasing.”
The last three seasons, Carpenter has hit at least 20 home runs. His on-base percentage rose each year too, but as hit batting average and RBI total decreased the last two seasons, he decided it was time to get back to his old approach.
“It should be an easy transition because it’s who I’ve been my entire career, minus the last couple of seasons,” said Carpenter. “So I think it will come to me fast and more naturally than maybe some expect.”
photo credit: Jasen Vinlove, Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports