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.
Free agent right-hander Tim Lincecum isn’t ready to hang up his cleats just yet. At least, that’s the word from Lincecum’s agent, Rick Thurman, who says the 32-year-old is still “throwing and getting ready for the season” (via Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News).
Lincecum may not be ready to enter retirement, but another quote from Thurman suggests that he’ll be picky about where he pitches next. He doesn’t appear open to pitching overseas, and despite not having a contract for 2017 (or even any serious suitors), the right-hander is set on pitching in the big leagues this year. Whether or not he’s willing to take a bullpen role to do so remains to be seen.
While Baggarly predicts some interest in the veteran righty, there’s not much in Lincecum’s recent history to inspire faith in him as a starter, or even a reliever. He picked up a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Angels following his hip surgery in 2015, and went 2-6 in 2016 with a 9.16 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings. At this point, a minor league contract seems like the surest path back to major league success, though he’s unlikely to find an open spot on the Giants’ or Angels’ rosters anytime soon.
Free agent right-hander Jeff Manship has reportedly signed with the NC Dinos of the Korea Baseball Organization, according to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The righty was non-tendered by the Indians in December.
Manship, 32, completed his second season with Cleveland in 2016. He delivered a 3.12 ERA, 4.6 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 rate over 43 1/3 innings, a slight decline after posting an 0.92 ERA with the club the year before. During eight years in the major leagues, Manship carries a 4.82 career ERA, 3.6 BB/9 and 6.4 SO/9 in multiple stints with the Twins, Rockies, Phillies and Indians.
The right-hander will be joined by fellow MLB transplants Eric Hacker and Xavier Scruggs, each of whom took one-year deals with the Dinos last month. Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors notes that each KBO team is allowed up to three foreign players, so Manship will round out the trio when he joins the roster. Any salary terms have yet to be disclosed.