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Matt Carpenter working to become a second baseman

Dec 30, 2012, 10:51 AM EDT

matt carpenter getty Getty Images

Matt Carpenter posted a promising .294/.365/.463 batting line last season for the Cardinals but he was limited to just 64 starts because the positions he currently knows how to play — first base, third base and the corner outfielder spots — are taken in St. Louis. Which is why he was given a homework assignment this offseason: learn second base.

And he has proven to be a hard-working student.

According to beat writer Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Carpenter is performing daily agility drills — like jumping rope — to improve his foot quickness and has been taking grounders at second base at least five days a week for over a month. His father is a high school baseball coach in Texas and knows his way around a fungo bat.

“I want to win that job,” the younger Carpenter told Goold in a recent phone interview. “And worst case, if I can only be adequate (at second base), I could still get a few extra games out there and instead of 300 at-bats, I’ll get 400 at-bats. If I can earn their trust out there at second, that’s possible.”

If Carpenter can pick up the position, Daniel Descalso will be shifted to more of a utility role.

  1. kirkvanhouten - Dec 30, 2012 at 12:30 PM

    Hell, Skip Schumaker could do it*, it should be no problem for Matt.

    *Skip Schumaker actually could not do it…

    • saints97 - Dec 30, 2012 at 2:17 PM

      If Schumaker could have put up a 125 OPS+, his glove would have been acceptable. The problem with Skip was that he was a well below average glove crow-barred into a position to get his below average bat into the lineup. That never made sense.

      My guess is that Carpenter will probably be able to field the position as well or better than Skip, but I am not sure he can keep hitting the way he did last year to make it worth it. But it is not like Descalso is a defensive wizard himself, and we know he can’t hit.

      • paperlions - Dec 30, 2012 at 2:38 PM

        Carpenter could very well continue to hit that well. His performance in MLB was in line with what you would expect based on his performances in A+, AA, and AAA in 2010 and 2011. He has an excellent approach, knows the zone very well, and has some power. If anything, I expect both his walk rate and OBP to improve a little. The kid can hit, he’s actually the reason the Cardinals didn’t mind trading away Cox for nothing more than a reliever.

      • gostlcards5 - Dec 30, 2012 at 3:21 PM

        I don’t completely agree with you. The result of Schu at second was below average. However, the Cards “crow-barred” him into the position, because as a utility outfielder, Schu had hit over .300 in 2 seasons (.333 in ’07, .302 in ’08). And actually, he hit .303 in his first season being used at second as well. Also, his start at second was very promising. Once he started not hitting as well, I believe that his fielding suffered, probably as much from not being in game situations as anything else.

        On the subject of Matt Carpenter at second, if he can learn the position and be adequate or better, that would be awesome, because I think he will improve offensively, and he was very good last year.

  2. okwhitefalcon - Dec 30, 2012 at 1:53 PM

    One of a few interesting storylines heading into spring for the Cards although 2nd base has been a revolving door since when, Fernando Vina?

    All quiet on the Wainwright front for a while now and no clue how reliable Carpenter or Garcia will be moving forward.

    Is anyone else growing increasingly uncomfortable with the Cards starting pitching?

    • Drew Silva - Dec 30, 2012 at 2:22 PM

      If Garcia is still hurt, Shelby Miller steps in. If Carpenter goes down, in comes Trevor Rosenthal. Then there’s Joe Kelly. And Carlos Martinez could be ready late-season with Michael Wacha not far behind. That’s all pretty comfortable.

    • paperlions - Dec 30, 2012 at 2:41 PM

      Seriously? With Lynn, Miller, Rosenthal, and Kelly all available and capable of being, and ready to be, average or better starters? No, I am not uncomfortable at all….even in a worst case scenario, the Cardinals have some excellent options (some of which are likely to be upgrades over Westbrook or Garcia).

      • okwhitefalcon - Dec 30, 2012 at 9:26 PM

        Dead serious.

        Beyond Waino, I’m not sure there’s a 200 inning guy in the Carp, Garcia, Westbrook trio.

        It would not surpise me one bit for the Cards to lead the league in BP innings pitched and spot starts.

        I’m happy they have options if/when the vets go down but my uncomfortability lies more with the vets performance before they do go down.

        Lotsa unknowns with the trio and who knows when they’ll engage Waino…

  3. jdd428 - Dec 30, 2012 at 5:16 PM

    Carpenter at 2B is not a good idea when you’ve got the best 2B prospect in the minors in Kolten Wong. You’re risking stunting Wong so you can play a guy out of position just to get his bat in the lineup? Bad call.

    • Drew Silva - Dec 30, 2012 at 5:19 PM

      Wong hit .287/.348/.405 at Double-A Springfield in 2012. Ideally he’d spend the entire 2013 season in the minors and be worked in slowly in 2014.

      • paperlions - Dec 30, 2012 at 5:27 PM

        Exactly, there is no reason to believe that Wong is ready for the majors. His defense, reportedly, has improved greatly, but he didn’t hit most of last year and was rather horrible at the plate in the AFL.

    • okwhitefalcon - Dec 30, 2012 at 9:33 PM

      I seriously don’t think Wong will ever be anything more than a serviceable starter – if that.

      I’d love to see the kid live up to the crazy high expectations the BFIB are putting on him but I just don’t see it.

  4. lionsplayoffs - Jan 1, 2013 at 1:19 AM

    Am I the only idiot wondering for a split second why in the world Chris Carpenter would want to play second base? And how in the world he could have batted .294? That’s what I get for staying up too late.

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