Carpenter experiment gets first real test

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by Brian Feldman, BaseballStL

KMOV.com

Posted on February 24, 2013 at 8:38 AM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 5 at 1:55 PM

(BaseballStL) -- He's been saying it all spring training.  He's been saying it all winter, actually.  Matt Carpenter can put in all the work he wants at second base, but until he gets into game action and sees these things he's been working on up close, he won't know how much progress he's actually made.
 
It's one thing to master the art of turning a double play on a practice field with no one watching and no real repercussions of failing.  It's quite another to do it with someone flying at you with the intent of creating contact, a stadium full of people while knowing full well that if you screw up that could mean extra runs for the opposition.
 
3B coach Jose Oquendo said during the first couple weeks of spring training that Carpenter's made terrific strides as a second baseman.  He's smooth.  He's comfortable.  But the one actually making the transformation has always put an asterisk by comments such as Oquendo's.
 
He won't know how far he's come until games start.
 
Well, Matt, your first real opportunity comes today as you make your first start at second base against the Boston Red Sox at Roger Dean stadium.  Technically, he did come in for Daniel Descalso yesterday versus the Marlins but never had a ball hit to him.  It's kind of hard to judge someone when they don't have any chances to make plays - or make mistakes.
 
I'm fascinated to see not only how the TCU alum does at second base this spring but also how the rest of his game keeps up with the isolated work he's put in.  The whole reason the Cards are doing this with Carpenter is because he's such a good hitter and they're trying to find a way to get his bat in the lineup more often.
 
Is it possible he put in so much time this winter at second base that it will affect him at the plate?  At third base?  In the outfield?
 
It's highly doubtful, especially given Carpenter's work ethic.  But it's certainly note worthy exactly what the organization is asking him to do.
 
Play five positions, all at a high level, while maintaining a .300 batting average and a .370 (or so) on-base percentage?
 
If he can pull this off he'll be one of the few who would be able to do it.  Not many corner infielders/outfielders can make a transition into the middle of the field (whether it's second base, shortstop or center field).
 
We'll find out soon enough just how proficient he's become.

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