Carpenter gets at-bats by starting at second

Carpenter gets at-bats by starting at second

ST. LOUIS -- Matt Carpenter estimates that he was 13 years old the last time he played second base in an organized game. The Cardinals will see if he can shake off the cobwebs on Thursday night, as manager Mike Matheny penciled him in at the position for the club's series finale against Colorado.

"I'm excited. I'm just ready to play," Carpenter said. "Any time I come to the park and see my name in the lineup, it fires me up. I don't really care where it is. I just want to give it my best."

Matheny has been trying to find ways to get Carpenter into the lineup, but with both Matt Holliday and Carlos Beltran swinging hot bats at the corner outfield spots, and the same for Allen Craig at first base, second base seemed like the best spot for Carpenter.

"He's just doing a nice job," Matheny said. "I hate to let him sit in there and rot, because he brings some energy and some different dynamics to the lineup."

Carpenter took ground balls at second during the offseason and began to do so again recently in case a day like this came.

"Obviously, it's not first base, but it's the same side of the infield. For me, a ground ball's a ground ball," Carpenter said. "It's just one of those things where you're going to go out there and make the most of it, try to get it done when you get those opportunities."

Carpenter has appeared in 49 games, batting .289 with 10 doubles and 21 RBIs. He's started 23 games at first base and has also made appearances at third base and both corner outfield positions. The 26-year-old was used regularly in April and May while Lance Berkman and Craig were battling injuries.

"There's going to be some things that sneak up on him," Matheny said. "But he is a good enough athlete, and has as good a baseball IQ as anyone we have out here, really.

"We have to figure out if this is a viable option, and it is in our minds. We'll get him out there, see how it goes. Not making any long-term projections. I just think it gives us a really good chance tonight."