Carpenter heating up at right time

Carpenter heating up at right time

JUPITER, Fla. -- With a focus on the process, Matt Carpenter wasn't all that concerned that he entered Sunday's game 3-for- 21 with four total bases. His hope was to put in the physical work necessary to ready himself for the season and then match that with the mental preparation near the end of camp.

Exactly two weeks before the club's season opener, the results caught up to the process for Carpenter, who went 2-for-3 with a home run and a double in the Cardinals' 5-2 loss to the Marlins.

"Early in the spring when you're kind of feeling through it, you don't want to put yourself through the mental grind it takes to really play your best," Carpenter said. "My work in the spring has been good, and my swing has felt good all spring. You get to another place mentally as we get closer to Opening Day."

Carpenter, who exhausted himself to the point of having to miss a three-game series due to extreme fatigue in 2015, is hoping a more balanced approach to his spring work can translate into energy and production saved. After starting Grapefruit League play 1-for-14, he has four hits in his last 10 at-bats.

"Nobody wants to be smoking red hot the first two weeks of camp because it's just the law of averages that you're going to come down from that," Carpenter said. "The timing of it is you hope that you get smoking red hot just as you head north. That's the way the timing, for me, hopefully plays out."

Worth noting

Ruben Tejada went 1-for-4 in his Cardinals' debut on Sunday and had plenty of defensive activity at the shortstop position.

Tejada's first out

"Sure looked good, too," manager Mike Matheny said of his first look at the shortstop the Cardinals signed on Saturday. "Looked smooth. He did a nice job."

Because Tejada logged just 19 plate appearances with the Mets, the Cardinals want to help him make up for the missed time by getting him in the lineup regularly over these final 10 spring games.

Tejada's first Cardinals single

• Having spent much of his career essentially calling his own games, Mike Leake is handing that responsibility over to new batterymate Yadier Molina. The early returns are positive, too, as Leake has allowed one run over 11 innings with Molina catching.

Leake on outing, Molina

"For the most part, I had to be pretty stern with what I wanted," Leake said of his thought process in the past. "I just felt like I needed to stick to my plan in the past. I'm hopeful I won't have to think as much here. He's so smart out there that he knows what to do."

• Matheny will miss Monday's game to attend the funeral of his grandmother in West Virginia. Bench coach David Bell will handle managerial duties for the day.

• While the Cardinals still intend to get Matt Holliday exposure at first base, look for his time in left field to increase now that the club is no longer utilizing a designated hitter. Nevertheless, Matheny described Holliday as a "viable option" at first base based upon what the club has seen from the veteran outfielder already this spring.

• Third-base coach Jose Oquendo rejoined the team on Sunday after undergoing a minor procedure on a knee. Because Oquendo is using crutches to get around, first-base coach Chris Maloney will continue to handle the third-base coaching duties. Triple-A manager Mike Shildt is the interim first-base coach.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB, like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.