M. Carpenter back to bench, but at the ready

M. Carpenter back to bench, but at the ready

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Cardinals' bench may not be all that deep, but manager Mike Matheny has one very nice weapon at his disposal, ready to be deployed at the right time. Infielder/outfielder Matt Carpenter was once again not in the lineup Monday night for Game 7 of the National League Championship Series, despite an impressive record against Giants starter Matt Cain.

NLCS

That's because, in short, there's no obvious candidate for Carpenter to displace. The left-handed-hitting youngster is an impressive young bat. But the Cardinals have star-level hitters at all four corner positions, so Carpenter's 5-for-6 mark against Cain isn't good enough to get him in the starting nine.

"We've done this all season," Matheny said. "He's been a great fill for whatever we need. But you started looking at him playing in the outfield in the corners, and you've got Matt Holliday and Carlos Beltran, and Allen Craig and David Freese on the corners in the infield. Those are guys that have all been valuable parts of our lineup. We don't deny what Matt's been able to do against Cain, but if anything does happen with any of our guys along the way, we've got a good option."

Carpenter came off the bench in Game 3 of the NLCS after Beltran injured his left knee. He hit a home run in the Cardinals' 3-1 win in that game and started again in Game 4, but he returned to the bench for Game 5, when Beltran came back to the lineup. He started Game 6 in Holliday's absence when the left fielder suffered back spasms.