Carpenter gets nod as Cards' leadoff hitter

Carpenter gets nod as Cards' leadoff hitter

PHILADELPHIA -- It was no reflection on Jon Jay and his .292 on-base-percentage, said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, that Matt Carpenter led off Thursday night for the first time in his 136-game Major League career. Carpenter, normally the two-hole hitter, has top-of-the-order skills that Matheny felt could be put to good use against a top-of-the-rotation-caliber left-hander like Cole Hamels. Jay was moved to the seventh spot in the lineup.

"Jon Jay does a nice job in the leadoff role and will continue to do so," said Matheny before his team opened a four-game series in Philadelphia. "There are times when the matchup looks [right] to get a [guy like] Carpenter in there.

"He has really shown an ability to have tough at-bats, especially when you are going up against a tough left-hander like a Hamels. [Carpenter] can take a borderline pitch, one that is away from the zone where your approach is for that particular at-bat or particular pitch.

"He also has the ability to drive in runs so there are times he could be more aggressive down the lineup. He has such a knowledge of balls that he can hit hard. Not that he is going up to take pitches -- he is just waiting for a pitch in a particular area or a particular pitch, depending upon who he is facing.

"It's a great approach. Not everybody can get away with it because not everybody has the knowledge of the strike zone, the ability to see the ball the way he does."

Carpenter seconded that notion, even as he moved up one spot, and not for the first time in his baseball existence.

"I did it here and there at other levels," he said. "My style of bat is very conducive to normal leadoff hitting, so I am not going to try and change anything."

Carpenter went 0-for-4 with a strikeout Thursday.

Jay Greenberg is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.