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Carpenter thrilled with where his swing is

Cards showcase potential Opening Day lineup Friday
July 18, 2020

ST. LOUIS -- It wasn’t the home run pitch or swing that Matt Carpenter was most content with after Friday’s intrasquad game at Busch Stadium. It was the pitch that he drove to left field for an out -- the one that revealed where Carpenter’s swing is right now. “For

ST. LOUIS -- It wasn’t the home run pitch or swing that Matt Carpenter was most content with after Friday’s intrasquad game at Busch Stadium. It was the pitch that he drove to left field for an out -- the one that revealed where Carpenter’s swing is right now.

“For me, 100 percent, it was the swing on the backdoor cutter from Miles [Mikolas],” Carpenter said. “For me to be able to take that swing on that pitch is right where I want to be. That pitch, to be able to stay on that pitch and be able to hit in the gap and get a chance for an extra-base hit -- I was way happier with that swing.”

With less than a week before Opening Day against the Pirates at Busch Stadium, the Cardinals fielded a potential starting lineup during Friday’s intrasquad -- Kolten Wong at leadoff, Paul Goldschmidt and Paul DeJong stacked at Nos. 3 and 4, respectively. And Carpenter at fifth as the designated hitter. With Carpenter moving to fifth instead of the typical No. 2 and to DH instead of the typical third base, Tommy Edman batted second and played third, giving the Cardinals speed at the top and bottom of the order. That lineup, Cardinals Red, won 2-1 on Carpenter’s two-run homer in the bottom of the second.

Carpenter spent most of last season searching for his swing and working over the offseason on finding his hitting identity. He wants to hit to all parts of the field like he did early in his career. The work that he did showed some in Spring Training but has become clear in Summer Camp, encouraging the Cardinals as they move him around the lineup. It’s why the lineout to left field was more eye-opening than the homer to the home bullpen -- although the quick surge of offense is always a positive.

The Cardinals are likely to rotate hitters through the DH to begin the season, but Carpenter said he’d be “more than willing” to take over the DH role if needed. Friday was his first opportunity to get used to the half-inning role. In his career, Carpenter has 37 plate appearances as DH.

“There is definitely going to be a technique to it,” he said. “It’s its own unique position that I haven’t had a ton of opportunity or experience in. I’m more than willing to do it and learn it and adapt to it. Today was a good start to figure out what that routine looks like.”

Miller hopeful for Opening Day availability
Sidelined for most of camp by right heel/ankle soreness, infielder Brad Miller has been able to do everything on the field except run, and he’s hoping the batting practice and defensive work will help him build up quickly to be ready for Opening Day. But after eight days of being held out of intrasquad games and limited in live batting practice, the Cardinals don’t want to push him if he’s not ready by next week.

“I think really just kind of taking it day to day,” Miller said. “I think we’ve got it figured out, what we think’s going on and got a way to kind of tame the inflammation and build it back up smart. I’m able to hit still and throw and all that, so I think when I get the thumbs up, I’ll be able to go pretty quick.”

If the versatile Miller isn’t available for Opening Day, the Cardinals have infield depth with Edmundo Sosa and Max Schrock. Rangel Ravelo played third base for the first time that reporters have seen in Summer Camp on Friday so that Sosa could play shortstop and Schrock second base. Ravelo, who is normally a first baseman/outfielder, began his career at third base, but since 2012, he has a total of seven games at the hot corner.

Game-day viewing opportunities
Ballpark Village announced that multiple venues will be open for fans to watch all 30 Cardinals home games this season. Tickets to watch games on the Budweiser Brew House Bud Deck -- on the rooftop of Ballpark Village across the street from Busch Stadium -- go on sale at 9 a.m. Saturday on Cardinals Nation in Ballpark Village will also be open for in-venue accommodations, as well as exterior patio space and extended sidewalk seating on Clark Street, with health and safety measures in place.

Camp notes
• Mikolas threw five innings against Cardinals regulars Friday and allowed two runs on two hits across 60 pitches (33 strikes). Opposite of Mikolas was Carlos Martínez, who allowed one run and two walks in three innings while striking out two.

• The Cardinals had not one but two defensive gems in Friday’s game by perhaps the best infield duo in the National League. Gold Glove second baseman Wong made a spectacular, backhanded, jump-and-throw play on a grounder to the shortstop side of second base. Earlier, DeJong snagged a grounder in the gap and made the throw to first from deep in the infield.

• Left-hander Brett Cecil got out of a bases-loaded jam Friday after he walked two batters and allowed a single. He ran the count full against Austin Dean with two outs but got the left fielder to pop out to shortstop to end the frame.

Anne Rogers covers the Cardinals for Follow her on Twitter @anne__rogers and on Facebook.