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Carlos Beltran may play some center field for Cardinals

Mar 22, 2012, 4:46 PM EDT

Carlos Beltran AP

Carlos Beltran played zero innings in center field last season, but he was out there for today’s spring training game and the Cardinals are considering giving him some regular season starts.

Jon Jay is the primary center fielder, but manager Mike Mathney told Anthony Castrovince of that he’d like to occasionally sub Beltran in versus left-handed pitchers.

That may not happen very often early on, but once Allen Craig returns from knee surgery and Matheny wants to get him in the lineup alongside Beltran, Lance Berkman, and Matt Holliday shifting Beltran to center field and Jay to the bench against lefties is an easy solution.

Assuming, of course, that Beltran’s knees hold up at age 34. He won three straight Gold Gloves in 2006-2008, but graded out poorly according to Ultimate Zone Rating in 2009 and 2010 before taking last season off from the position.

  1. rooney24 - Mar 22, 2012 at 5:06 PM

    Wasn’t this the plan all along, assuming Craig gets healthy? You need to find Craig playing time, if he hits like he did last year. You aren’t going to bench Holliday or Beltran too often, if they hit like they should. So, it stands to reason that Jay should lose some playing time. You can’t likely play Beltran too often in center, but then again, everyone scoffed at the idea of Berkman playing full time in RF last year, and that worked out OK.

    • 78mu - Mar 22, 2012 at 5:41 PM

      The only OF that can play CF and hit righthanded is Beltran so it had to be the plan from the beginning (I assume no one is thinking of Craig playing CF against LH).

  2. spudchukar - Mar 23, 2012 at 9:41 AM

    Once Craig regains his health, look for him to also get playing time at 2B. With Schumaker on the shelf, both he and Greene have the opportunity to show they can handle the job, at least on a part time basis.

    One of Larussa’s philosophies, and arguably his most successful, was his wont to get playing time for his bench players. It came in handy down the stretch for the Cards, and it has proven to be a winning formula.
    Unfortunately Matheny has indicated in at least one area, David Freese he will not follow Tony’s example and I believe it is a mistake.

    Whenever possible I would like to see Freese, Berkman, Beltran and perhaps even Craig rested in later innings giving way to younger, more defensively skilled role players. Sure it needs to be used prudently, but 162 games is a long slough, and resting regulars whenever possible prevents injuries, utilizes bench players, and freshens the legs of those who will be needed in September and beyond.

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