JUPITER, Fl. (KMOV.com) -- Matt Carpenter will return to uninhibited game action Friday, having been fully cleared to swing.
The Cardinals have taken care to go slow with Carpenter’s return, after shutting his swing down more than two weeks ago when he alerted them to back tightness on March 1. With concerns the lower back stiffness could eventually cascade into a recurrence of his oblique injury, the team shut down his swing until this past Monday.
Carpenter took on-field batting practice with the team Thursday, showcasing a clean bill of health by belting a series of towering home runs, one of which cleared the building beyond the right field wall. He now has two weeks to prepare for the season, a window both he and the Cardinals believe to be more than adequate.
Minor league games have begun in Jupiter, which means he Cardinals’ major league camp roster was again sliced down.
Magneuris Sierra, who had a breakout spring, was optioned to High-A Palm Beach Thursday. The 20-year-old hit .387 in 14 games, flashing exceptional speed on the bases. In the field he showcased tremendous range and a formidable arm. His play compelling enough that an opposing manager asked Mike Matheny if the young outfielder would be on the Cardinals’ Opening Day roster.
Despite winning organizational Player of the Year in 2014, Sierra has not played at any level above Low-A. He hit .307 in 122 games at Peoria last season, stealing 31 bases and driving in 60 runs.