MILWAUKEE -- Following an extended stay in Florida, where he was able to log the at-bats he missed while nursing back tightness during the team’s final week of Spring Training, starting third baseman Matt Carpenter rejoined the team in Milwaukee and participated fully in the club’s workout at Miller Park on Wednesday.
“One hundred percent,” he said afterward, referring to his health. “Ready to go.”
He expects his bat to be, too.
Carpenter comes into this season feeling much better with his timing than he did a year ago, when a similar back injury held him out of Grapefruit League play until March 13. That left Carpenter only enough time for 23 spring at-bats.
Looking back, he sees that as a leading factor in the sluggish start that left him with a .140/.286/.272 slash line through the team’s first 41 regular-season games.
“It was similar to like Greg Holland,” Carpenter noted. “When you don’t have Spring Training, it’s tough to [be ready]. Well, thankfully this year I had a full offseason [and] a full spring minus the last seven days. I’m just in a better spot.”
Carpenter’s claim comes despite the fact that he actually logged only six more Grapefruit League at-bats this spring than he did a year ago. However, that doesn’t account for the fact that he was able to tally additional at-bats in a Minor League setting each of the past three days.
He and Paul Goldschmidt, who hit his own offensive skid early last season, did trade notes this spring about what they learned from their individual experiences. Their conclusion?
“We decided to not do that again,” Carpenter said.
Mikolas eager for opener
After playing some light catch and reminding his teammates of the dent he left on the “Club Goodwill” sign with his Miller Park home run last year, Miles Mikolas retreated to the team hotel to finish his preparations for his Opening Day start.
That included, among other things, carving out some time to groom.
“If my mustache can be dialed in,” Mikolas said, “then that’s half the battle.”
The Brewers will present the rest of the challenge, though it’s an offense Mikolas tamed relatively well a year ago. He finished his first season in the National League Central with a 3-0 record and 4.01 ERA against the division-winning Brewers. That included wins in both of his Miller Park starts.
While Thursday will mark Mikolas’ first Opening Day assignment in the Majors, he does have a comparable experience to lean on from his time pitching in Japan. He drew the nod as the Opening Day starter for the Yomiuri Giants in 2017, his third and final season pitching in Nippon Professional Baseball.
“I’m super excited,” Mikolas said. “It’s a tremendous honor, and I’ll be out there doing my best.”
Shreve heads to Memphis
Reliever Chasen Shreve, who was designated for assignment last Friday, cleared waivers and has been outrighted to Memphis, where he’ll pitch out of the bullpen for the Cardinals’ Triple-A affiliate.
“I want the best for all our guys, but selfishly as the organization, it’s good that Chasen has cleared and is back with us,” manager Mike Shildt said. “He’s a guy we have a lot of trust in. … We know he has the ability to help us out.”
The Cardinals’ decision to carry seven relievers instead of eight on their Opening Day roster squeezed the left-hander out of a spot. Shreve allowed five runs on six hits and nine walks in nine Grapefruit League innings.
• Jedd Gyorko (right calf strain) remains in Florida so that he can take at-bats in Minor League Spring Training games. He is slated to join the Cardinals in Pittsburgh on Monday and hopes to be activated from the 10-day injured list for the team’s April 4 home opener.
• With his start on Thursday, Yadier Molina will become the 10th catcher all-time to start at least 15 Opening Day games at the position. He’ll be just the fifth to do so in consecutive seasons. His 15 consecutive Opening Day starts at a single position will also extend his franchise record.
• Carpenter’s famous homemade salsa hit the shelves of St. Louis-area Schnucks grocery stores again in time for Opening Day -- and this time with a twist. Carpenter said on Wednesday that the salsa now comes in two temperatures -- mild and spicy.
“Hopefully,” he added, “it will bring some more success.”