Don’t be surprised to see Matt Carpenter play second base for the St. Louis Cardinals, possibly as early as Saturday.
Carpenter, who has made 68 starts at first base this season, took ground balls at second base before the game Friday night against Washington.
With Kolten Wong (strained right triceps) now expected to be out of action until after the All-Star break, the Cardinals are leaning toward giving Carpenter an occasional start against left-handed pitchers while also keeping rookie Luke Voit fresh at first base.
Voit, a St. Louis native who graduated from Lafayette High School, has been impressive in his first five days in the big leagues, going 3-for-6 with two doubles.
“If we’re faced with a tough lefty, that’s something we’re going to at least make sure we have covered,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “Carp has been taking ground balls all season, all over the place. (It was) just a little more concentrated work at second (Friday) might give him a little bit more opportunity.”
Left-hander Gio Gonzalez will pitch for the Nationals at 6:15 p.m. Saturday.
Carpenter was the Cardinals’ everyday second baseman in 2013 when he made 128 starts at the position. He manned third base in 2014 and 2015 before shuffling between third base, second base and first base last season.
John Mozeliak, the Cardinals’ new president of baseball operations, said Friday that injured players Wong, center fielder Dexter Fowler (right heel spur) and reliever Kevin Siegrist (cervical spine sprain) have all received cortisone injections.
Fowler and Siegrist are expected to return before the All-Star break.
Mozeliak noted the improved defense Tommy Pham has provided in center, but he said moving Fowler out of the position is a difficult topic to broach since the Cardinals committed five years and $82.5 million to the switch-hitter.
“Any time you sign a free agent of his magnitude and you bring him to do a job, it’s very delicate to start talking about moving him off,” Mozeliak said. “Clearly, you want to do what’s best for the team and finding ways to win, and there’s no doubt when you look at the last few days with Tommy Pham, he’s made some excellent catches and had a positive impact on the team.
“So we have some time to decide what that next step looks like. I’m sure all of us on the decision team will have a talk, but we haven’t done that yet.”
Shortstop Aledmys Diaz will remain at Class AAA Memphis until the Cardinals believe he is ready to return. No one knows how long that will be.
“I don’t want to get in a timetable because I don’t know,” Mozeliak said. “If I were thinking about this, I’d say it would probably be shorter rather than longer. We clearly want to get him going.”
Diaz, who batted .300 with 17 home runs and 65 RBIs as a rookie last season, is batting just .260 with seven homers and 20 RBIs this year. Defensively, he’s had issues, although he’s had plenty of company in that category.
“I just felt like, overall, his entire game was lacking,” Mozeliak said. “Sometimes trying to hit the reset button at the big-league level is very difficult, where as you can go down, (play with) a little bit less pressure and you can feel free to work on things. That’s ultimately what I hope happens.”
Matheny expressed encouragement after watching his club win two of three against the NL West-contending Arizona Diamondbacks. St. Louis outscored Arizona 19-13.
“I’m really happy with how the guys played, and (it’s) something to build on,” Matheny said. “It set a level of expectations as we go forward. It was just well-played. That first game didn’t end the way we wanted to, but up until that point, we saw a lot of aggressiveness offensively, aggressiveness on the bases, all the way around.
“From the bullpen, you’re going to have (tough games). But (Thursday), just to give that offense another little shot in the arm, (a) spark to be the team we believe we should be.”
David Wilhelm: @DavidMWilhelm