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Choate's role expanding beyond lefty specialist

Special to MLB.com

ST. LOUIS -- When Randy Choate signed with the Cardinals before the 2013 season, his role was perceived to be that of a left-handed specialist.

And for the most part last season, that is exactly what Choate was. The left-hander went an inning or more in just 15 of his 73 regular and postseason appearances.

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ST. LOUIS -- When Randy Choate signed with the Cardinals before the 2013 season, his role was perceived to be that of a left-handed specialist.

And for the most part last season, that is exactly what Choate was. The left-hander went an inning or more in just 15 of his 73 regular and postseason appearances.

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So far, at least, the role has expanded this season. Choate, who entered Friday with a 3.00 ERA, has gone an entire inning in three of his four appearances in 2014. That means throwing to both left-handed and right-handed batters.

"As a competitor you like to go out there and compete," Choate said. "I've always believed in my ability to get both left-handed and right-handed batters out, but obviously I've been able to have more success overall against left-handers. But if they are going to put me out there against right-handers, I'm going to do all I can to get them out."

The composition of the bullpen has made the higher workload a necessity.

Pat Neshek's arrival to the Cardinals as a right-handed specialist created the need for more outs from the bullpen. Meanwhile, Kevin Siegrist's emergence as another relief option from the left side has allowed manager Mike Matheny to use Choate in different roles.

"He's getting outs, so we need him to get more than just one hitter out," Matheny said. "We can't kill the rest of our bullpen, so he's doing a nice job of getting the right-handers out in between the lefties."

Batters from both sides are hitting just .100 off of Choate in 2014.

"I've been able to mix my slider in a lot more than I used to," Choate said. "I have a lot more confidence throwing that against right-handers, which I didn't have before."

Joe Harris is a contributor to MLB.com.

 

St. Louis Cardinals