Speaking to the crowd at the St. Louis Baseball Writers Dinner on Saturday night, Matt Carpenter shared that he had never been so happy to give up a position before as he was when learning that Paul Goldschmidt had been acquired by the St. Louis Cardinals. Earlier this morning, he reiterated his excitement.
“I can only echo what you’ve heard already, but what I don’t think it can be overstated is we have a great player coming in here, but we have a really good person, a really good teammate, and it’s important,” Carpenter began. “It’s important to have a guy like that who walks into your clubhouse and can instantly be your best player on your team but he comes with a very high character, a very great work ethic, someone who is going to be a good teammate and be a good example.
“Because at the end of the day, we have a lot of young guys who are going to come in here and be watching, and they’re going to watch him with a very careful eye. They’re going to see everything he does and pay attention and you want a guy that’s going to set an example and do it in the right way. It’s just going to make us better.”
Carpenter and Goldschmidt grew up near each other in Texas, playing against each other at Elkins and Woodlands High Schools. They continued to be on opposite sides of the field in college, with Carpenter at TCU and Goldschmidt at Texas State. Now they’re finally teammates.
“I just couldn’t be happier that now I’m getting an opportunity to move across the diamond, especially for who I’m moving for,” Carpenter said. “When I got that phone call to know that was the guy we were getting for first base, I couldn’t have been more thrilled. So I’m excited, and obviously looking forward to it.”
The move to third base has allowed Carpenter to solely focus on preparing for the position instead of multiple spots and he’s been working on his arm strength, as well.
“It’s hard to just change what you’ve naturally done, but I do feel like my arm has gotten naturally stronger,” Carpenter said. “I do feel like I’m ready to go. I kind of have a chip on my shoulder for that position. I feel like I have something to prove over there. I want to show not only our team but the rest of baseball that I can do a good job over there. I’m looking forward to that.”
Carpenter has played at least a handful of games at third base every season except in 2012 and started 375 games there over the next three seasons. He’s logged the most games at first base the last two years.
“It would be great to know that at the end of the year I’ll look at the stat sheet and I’ll have 150-60 games started at third base,” Carpenter said. “I just haven’t seen that play out that way before. But, you know, it’s nice to know that this is where we are going into spring. It gave me some leeway for how I go about my offseason as far as preparing. Mentally I have kind of wrapped my head around, ‘This is what it’s going to look like.’ I can’t say it enough. I’m just so excited, so fired up with what this group can do. I’m just looking forward to getting down there.”
photo credit: Brian Stull/STLBaseballWeekly.com