Matt Carpenter working to become a second baseman

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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.

Report: Angels to sign Cody Allen

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Angels and reliever Cody Allen are in agreement on a one-year contract, pending a physical. The value of the contract is not yet known.

Allen, 30, was looking for an opportunity to close and the Angels can certainly provide that. He will likely be the favorite to break camp as the closer. 2018 was the roughest year of his career, however, as he finished with a 4.70 ERA, 27 saves, and a 80/33 K/BB ratio in 67 innings. Among Allen’s six full seasons, his 27.7 strikeout rate and 11.4 percent walk rate represented career-worsts. FanGraphs also shows him losing nearly a full MPH on his average fastball velocity.

The Angels lost closer Keynan Middleton to Tommy John surgery early last season and he likely won’t return until the second half of the 2019 season. Blake Parker, who handled save situations in Middleton’s place, was non-tendered by the Angels in November and ended up signing with the Twins. The closer’s role is Allen’s to lose, it seems.