Carpenter bats leadoff in return from IL

August 4th, 2019

OAKLAND -- If you are looking for proof that baseball isn’t all about the numbers, look no further than the 's activation from the injured list Sunday.

The infielder played nine games in his rehab from a right foot contusion, and he went 2-for-26.

Carpenter, who led off Sunday against the Athletics, pushed the Cardinals for the rehab assignment, and he said most of what he was doing had little to do with the games, in which he’d get four at-bats.

“Most of what I was doing came before the games, getting a thousand swings to try and find my rhythm,” Carpenter said Sunday morning. “A thousand is an exaggeration, but I was getting two or three times as many swings down there as I would ever be able to get here.

“In the last three or four days, I began to feel like I was finding that rhythm. This season, my swing hasn’t been what I’d hoped it would be, but I’m feeling good.”

The Cards were one-half game out of first place in the National League Central as play began Sunday.

“This is the best time of the year in baseball, and I’m excited to be here,” Carpenter said. “We’re in it and there’s so much to be excited about.”

Manager Mike Shildt is sold, saying that Carpenter has been around long enough to know his swing, and if the third baseman is feeling good about it, that’s more important than the raw numbers.

“He came to us and said he needed [Minor League] at-bats,” Shildt said. “Then a couple of days go, he said he was feeling better, and that was the opinion of our medical group.”

As for leading off, Shildt looks not just at last year, when 30 of Carpenter’s career-best 36 homers came in the top slot, but also the 40 walks he’s drawn leading off this year, even while mired in a hitting slump.

“He can set the table to for [Paul] Goldschmidt) and [Marcell] Ozuna to drive in runs,” Shildt said. “And when he’s on, he’ll drive himself in, too.”

Worth noting

• The Cardinals recalled right-handed pitcher for the sixth time this season from Triple-A Memphis. First baseman/outfielder was optioned to Memphis and right-handed pitcher Mike Mayers, who pitched 1 1/3 innings Friday, was designated for assignment.

Helsley has pitched well in eight appearances for St. Louis this season. He doesn’t have a decision, but he has a 2.92 ERA in eight games, striking out 13 in 12 1/3 innings.

With Memphis, Helsley has been in and out of the rotation with seven starts in 17 games, compiling a 2-3 record and a 4.58 ERA. His last two appearances at Triple-A were both starts, including three scoreless innings his last time out against Albuquerque on July 31.

• Catcher is on an injury rehab assignment with Memphis, and while he’s playing, he’s not yet ready to test his strained right thumb tendon by taking full hacks at the plate. On Saturday, he tried a bunt.

Shildt said Molina was trying to get his legs ready for the rigors of catching daily, and he said the veteran's offense would come around soon enough. Molina won’t return on this road trip, which continues in Los Angeles against the Dodgers for three games starting Monday. And it’s a bit of a stretch that he could be active next weekend when the Cards are at home against Pittsburgh on Aug 9-11.

“I don’t think it’s out of the question at all that he’ll be back sometime mid-August,” Shildt said.