Carpenter pacing himself to keep fresh for stretch run

Carpenter pacing himself to keep fresh for stretch run

BALTIMORE -- It was on this date a year ago that Matt Carpenter was wrapping up a 9-for-64 lull that represented his worst stretch of an otherwise exceptional season. He hinted at the time and admitted afterward that fatigue contributed to the brief, but sharp decline in production.

Carpenter did rebound to hit .355/.432/.536 over the final seven weeks of the 2013 season, but this year he vowed to better pace himself so that he could avoid even a temporary production dip.

"I've been tailoring my work around how long the season is, and I think that was the biggest thing I learned from last year," Carpenter said on Saturday. "Having gone through it once, I didn't want to hit that point where I felt like I was wearing down. That happened last year. I want to be as strong at the end of the year as I was to start."

That doesn't translate to Carpenter taking fewer swings or giving up his distinction as being the earliest player to the ballpark on most days. But he is cautious about not overworking himself, and Carpenter has been aided by the fact that he didn't have to pour all those additional hours into learning a new position again over the offseason and during Spring Training.

The rest he got then has translated into freshness now.

"I feel way better than I did at this point last year," Carpenter said. "Obviously, we'll find out if I'm able to get on a tear here and it pays off. But physically, I feel good."

Carpenter, who has started 113 of the team's 115 games, including each of the last 43, has nevertheless gotten off to a slow start this month. In seven August games, Carpenter is 5-for-22. However, he has struck out just once, and his on-base percentage has hardly suffered. The third baseman continues to be the team's best at extending at-bats and drawing walks.

His 63 walks entering Saturday ranked fourth most in the National League. He also remains among the league leaders in OBP (.379) and runs scored (71).

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.