ST. LOUIS -- A frustrating season continues for Matt Carpenter, as the Cardinals' third baseman was put on the injured list with a right foot contusion after fouling a ball off his foot in the seventh inning Monday night.
Infielder Edmundo Sosa was called up from Triple-A Memphis to serve as another bench player, and Tommy Edman and Yairo Muñoz will split time at third base in Carpenter’s absence.
The Cardinals don’t have a specific timeline for Carpenter’s return, but the hope is it heals after four to five days in a boot. Carpenter will then return to baseball activities and go on a rehab assignment in either Double-A Springfield or Triple-A Memphis to get at-bats, which was Carpenter’s idea initially.
“I don’t know what the exact number is, but I’ve played three games in like 25-30 days,” he said. “Once I do get this going, get some at-bats and get going, I can come back and help. I wanted to play, and now I can’t. That’s why we talked about getting some at-bats, because I hadn’t been able to do it.”
Carpenter was activated from the injured list last week after a lower back strain sustained in Seattle on July 2. Before Friday, he hadn’t played in a game since June 28, as he sat out two days in San Diego to reset and work on his swing. But he fell ill June 29 and sat out the third game of that series, too. The illness caused Carpenter to lose some weight, so after being put on the injured list in Seattle, he returned to St. Louis to recover and use the break to focus on starting the second half strong.
Now, he’s facing another setback in an aggravating year that includes career lows in batting average (.215) and OPS (.693). Carpenter was 1-for-5 with four strikeouts in his past three games.
“It’s disappointing,” he said. “You don’t want to be injured ever, and then to do it just coming back from the All-Star break feeling like you’re going to have a strong second half individually and for the group, it’s frustrating.”
Manager Mike Shildt added: “He’s a mentally strong guy. Clearly not been the direction he’d like [the season] to go, in general … We know he’s getting compensated for the most part, and he’s here for his offense. He’s been frustrated by the lack of production or consistent production in that regard, but we’ve seen him get really smoking hot, and hopefully this reset and the opportunity to get some at-bats will get that going.”
Shildt was happy with the swings Carpenter took over the weekend, and Carpenter agreed, even if the results weren’t there. The break before and during the All-Star break helped with that, and the rehab assignment could give Carpenter the at-bats he needs to reset and adjust the timing of his swing.
“There’s a freedom of saying, ‘I want to try this or do that,’ without feeling like -- here, for all the guys, it’s a hard place to make adjustments and try things,” Shildt said. “You hold on to what you’ve done, and that can be good. You need to have an anchor, but you also have to have some flexibility in thinking about doing something differently. Maybe there’s a feel to something you’d like to work on that’s not afforded here.”
If Carpenter is back next week, he’ll have two months to make an impact, and he knows that he’ll play a big part in the Cardinals making the playoffs after missing out for three consecutive years.
“That’s the goal,” Carpenter said. “You can’t predict the future, but my goal is to come back strong and help us win games. That’s the ultimate goal, and that’s what I need to do.”
What’s the cause of Carpenter’s foul-ball trend?
Carpenter has struggled with fouling balls off his shin all year and has sat out games because of it. He wears a protective shin guard, but Monday night’s foul ball caught him lower than where it covers.
“I’ve never not been able to finish an at-bat before, and I couldn’t do it,” Carpenter said. “Couldn’t walk this morning. Pretty uncomfortable.”
Carpenter said he hasn’t dealt with this many foul balls off his body before, and he doesn’t know why it keeps happening this season. It might have to do with his swing, but it’s more likely to do with the way he’s pitched in the shift -- and Carpenter is being shifted 86.3 percent of the time this year -- with more inside balls than outside.
“There’s something to be said to how he’s pitched and how he’s working the ball that creates [the foul balls],” Shildt said.
Sosa brings versatility
Sosa, who can play second base, shortstop and third base, was called up because of availability, Shildt said. He was hitting .252 with 10 home runs and 34 RBIs in 83 games for Memphis this season, playing 49 games at shortstop, 17 at second and 15 at third.
"Takes the good at-bat, puts the ball in play, hits a good fastball,” Shildt said. “Plays the game -- last year when he came up, this environment wasn’t too big for him. Does things that can help you out. We’ve got some guys down there that are banged up. And we’d like to be able to make sure we carry an extra infielder.”
DeJong wins Heart and Hustle Award
Paul DeJong is the Cardinals' representative for the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association’s Heart and Hustle Award, voted on by former players to honor active players who demonstrate a passion for baseball and best embody the values, spirit and traditions of the game.
DeJong, the Cardinals' only All-Star this year, is hitting .254 with 13 home runs and 37 RBIs this season. One player from each team is selected for the award, and as the season draws to the close, fans, alumni and active players will vote to select the final winner, announced Nov. 7 at the Legends for Youth Dinner in New York.
Anne Rogers covers the Cardinals for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @anne__rogers and on Facebook.