Whatever the role, Schumaker will be ready

Whatever the role, Schumaker will be ready

Whatever the role, Schumaker will be ready
JUPITER, Fla. -- Skip Schumaker has been here before.

The seven-year veteran has played a variety of roles in his career. He's been a reserve outfielder, a starting second baseman and seemingly everything in between.

Schumaker has been an everyday player for most of the past four years but now appears to be penciled into a utility role for 2012. But that would not be unfamiliar territory for the highly adaptable Schumaker.

"I think it's been my career path where I'd play five or six innings at second base, and then go to the outfield," Schumaker said. "I haven't stopped working in the outfield drills in the past, and I haven't stopped working at second base either."

Since becoming an everyday player in 2008, Schumaker has hit .289 with a .723 OPS. But he understands why the Cardinals are looking at Tyler Greene and Daniel Descalso to fill the role of starting second baseman this spring.

"They're going to have to find a future at second base, and I'm 32 years old, so I don't think I'm their future," Schumaker said. "Tyler Greene is 27 or 28, and Descalso is young, too. They're going to have to find a guy who could man that position for the next five or six years. Those guys could be the guys. They're going to find out shortly if they are, so we'll see."

In addition to their youth, Greene and Descalso also have some quality baseball tools that make them promising young players. But Schumaker will be ready should the Cardinals decide that they would be best with him playing every day again.

"I have over 2,000 at-bats in the Major Leagues," Schumaker said. "Those guys aren't proven at the Major League level yet, so I think they're going to find out what they can do in spring. If they can do what they did in the Minor Leagues, then it's great for our team. If that plan doesn't work, I think they have a great fall-back plan in myself, so we'll see how it works."

Schumaker is also a fall-back plan in the outfield, where Carlos Beltran, Jon Jay and Matt Holliday are expected to play the majority of games.

Despite an undefined role so early in camp, Schumaker is confident that he will be able to succeed in any position the Cardinals choose to play him. Part of that confidence comes from his experience as a versatile player in the past.

"I'm mentally prepared because I've been in that spot," Schumaker said. "It's not a knock on me, because I can play different positions and I've taken at-bats in the big leagues. I'm ready for any sort of job because I've done that before, in '05, '06 and '07. I know how to play off the bench and I know how to start, so I think I'll be able to do whatever they need me to do."