DENVER -- What seemed like a novelty two weeks ago is now something the Cardinals are taking quite seriously. Allen Craig, second baseman, is no stunt. It's a very real possibility as the organization continues to search for the best way to get Craig's potent bat into the lineup.
Craig made his sixth start at second base on Friday, and will continue to get opportunities there as the season goes along. The Cardinals have three regular outfielders, all of them essential parts of their offense, which removes one outlet for regular playing time for Craig. Another option is third base, but manager Tony La Russa feels that second is a better fit for Craig.
So he'll keep getting chances there. And it may not be just this year. Craig's long-term future in the St. Louis organization could be as a second baseman.
"He could be a second baseman with offense, could be a big benefit to the club, which would be a big benefit to him," La Russa said. "As far as playing time and money and ... It's not a wacky thing where there's nothing else to be gained."
La Russa explained that in his view, the majority of plays at second base are easier to handle than the typical plays at shortstop and third base. He remains concerned about Craig's aptitude at turning the double play, but that has not deterred the manager from using Craig at the keystone.
"You can catch it, you can knock it down and throw somebody out, and that's what I'm banking on," La Russa said. "What's the most impressive thing is not that he can make the routine play, because he's got good hands. It's that it hasn't affected his hitting. That was the worry. But it gives him an opportunity and he's made it work. He's gotten a lot of big hits for us, no matter where he plays."
Craig, an even-tempered sort, has no complaints. He's taking extra work with coaches Jose Oquendo and Joe Pettini, working to become as effective at the position as he can be.
"It hasn't been anything crazy," he said, "just getting the work in when I can and playing the games the best I can."