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.
Yankees first baseman Greg Bird gave his team tons of confidence to hand him the everyday job at first base to start the 2017 regular season, batting .451/.556/1.098 with eight home runs in 51 spring at-bats. But he’s followed that up by hitting .107/.254/.214 through the first month of the regular season.
GM Brian Cashman doesn’t have any intent to demote Bird back to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports. Cashman said, “It’s not even an option for me in my mind right now, at all.”
Bird didn’t start Sunday’s game against the Orioles, a 7-4 loss in 11 innings. Lefty Wade Miley started for the Orioles, prompting manager Joe Girardi to put Chris Carter into the lineup at first base. If Bird isn’t able to figure things out, Carter might have an increased role on the team.
Rays starter Chris Archer threw his first pitch to Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista behind the slugger’s back with one out in the first inning of Sunday afternoon’s game in Toronto. Bautista and Archer then had a staredown. Home plate umpire Jim Wolf issued warnings to both teams. Bautista ultimately flied out to right field and he appeared to have a quick word with Archer on his way back to the dugout.
Archer could have been exacting revenge — euphemistically known as “protecting his teammate” — because Jays reliever Joe Biagini hit Rays outfielder Steven Souza in the seventh inning of Saturday’s game. Souza was forced to leave the game and underwent an X-ray, which came back negative. He was held out of Sunday’s lineup. Biagini’s pitch did not appear to be intentional.
The Jays won Sunday’s contest 3-1 with no further incident. The two clubs meet again in Tampa for a three-game series starting on May 5, so we’ll see if Sunday was the last of the bad blood between them.