Carpenter starts at second as Cards ride hot hand

Carpenter starts at second as Cards ride hot hand

Carpenter starts at second as Cards ride hot hand
LOS ANGELES -- Wanting to ensure that Matt Carpenter's bat remains in the lineup, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny gave Carpenter a second career start at second base on Friday night. Carpenter's other start at the position came back on July 5.

Having been told by his manager that another start at second would be a possibility, Carpenter has been taking regular pregame work at the position throughout the second half. He was there again on Friday for extended defensive work with shortstop Pete Kozma, Carpenter's middle-infield partner for the game.

"I'm always on my toes when it comes to getting reps there," Carpenter said. "I like to consider myself a baseball player and that means that even with things like this, you go out there confident."

While Carpenter has shown a knack for assimilating to new positions without much trouble, second base can be tricky. The footwork differs from what is required at a corner infield spot, and there are double play turns to worry about. There are also the less-noticeable nuances of the position -- like being in the right position for a cutoff -- that aren't yet instinctual for Carpenter.

Matheny sees the potential sacrifice defensively outweighed by both what Carpenter can do at the plate and the need the team has for a spark. Matheny's club has averaged three runs a game over the past 16 games.

"I don't think you can deny where we are offensively trying to get everybody going," Matheny said. "We were looking for a spot to try and get him in there, a player who is playing well. We've talked about staying with the hot hand, and he's been swinging a good bat and has been putting together good at-bats all season.

"It's going to be a challenge for him out there, no question. I know he's up for the challenge."

Carpenter entered the game with a .303 average and a team-best 10 RBIs this month before homering in his first at-bat in the second inning on Friday.