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.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.