Matt Carpenter is impressing at second base

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The Cardinals told Matt Carpenter — who played primarily first base, third base and the corner outfield spots last season — to spend his winter learning how to play second base. And learn he did.

Carpenter has logged 44 innings at second this spring in the Grapefruit League and has impressed the St. Louis coaching staff with his defense, writes Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The 27-year-old has not made an error and he has played a role in turning six double plays. He’s also batting .417 with a 1.101 OPS over 29 plate appearances.

“I’m at the point now where if I were to be out there in a game I don’t feel lost whatsoever,” Carpenter told Goold. “Am I going to win a Gold Glove over there? The odds of that are probably slim. But at the same time, do I feel like I can play an adequate second base? I do. I really do now. I’m comfortable at that position.”

That’s exactly what the Cardinals were hoping to hear. Carpenter hit .294/.365/.463 in 340 plate appearances last summer and should be more of a regular in 2013. Which leaves Daniel Descalso as a utility infielder.

J.D. Martinez tells teams he prefers an outfield role

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Free agent outfielder/slugger J.D. Martinez is reportedly seeking an outfield gig, says Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. According to Silverman’s sources, Martinez’s suitors have been informed that the veteran slugger would give preference to teams that can offer a corner outfield spot, rather than a DH-only role.

That could spell trouble for the Red Sox, who appear to be Martinez’s biggest suitors so far this offseason. Outfielders Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi are firmly established at the corners, and prior reports from club president Dave Dombrowski suggest that center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is not going anywhere anytime soon (thereby eliminating the possibility of reshuffling the outfield). The DH spot is still wide open for Martinez, who doesn’t seem to be totally closed off to the idea, but any full-time or part-time role on the field is likely off the table at this point.

Of course, the Red Sox aren’t the only ones pursuing Martinez’s services this winter. The 30-year-old slugger has been linked to both the Diamondbacks and Giants in weeks past, and while they have the roster flexibility to accommodate his preferences, they’ll need to clear another massive hurdle: the seven-year, $250 million contract he’s said to be seeking. Both clubs will need to get creative to make such a deal work. The Diamondbacks are rumored to be shopping right-hander Zack Greinke in an attempt to free up some room on their payroll for Martinez, while the Giants appear more inclined to scour the trade market for outfield help than shell out cash for another hefty contract in free agency.