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Carpenter slated for spring debut Tuesday

First baseman has battled back tightness; Jo. Martinez takes advantage of starting chance; Cards running wild; Roster moves announced
Special to MLB.com

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Matt Carpenter will make his Spring Training debut on Tuesday. He will not play in the field, but rather serve as the Cardinals' designated hitter for their game against the Marlins. Carpenter has had tightness in his back since before the opening of camp.

"Obviously, we'd like to see Matt involved," Matheny said. "I wouldn't hesitate to put him anywhere [in the lineup]."

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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Matt Carpenter will make his Spring Training debut on Tuesday. He will not play in the field, but rather serve as the Cardinals' designated hitter for their game against the Marlins. Carpenter has had tightness in his back since before the opening of camp.

"Obviously, we'd like to see Matt involved," Matheny said. "I wouldn't hesitate to put him anywhere [in the lineup]."

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The Cards' first baseman, who could see playing time at third as well, looks to rebound from a career-low .241 batting average last season over 145 games played. Carpenter did belt 23 homers, however, the second most in his career after knocking 28 out of the park in 2015.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

In preparation for the spring debut, Carpenter took a few swings during an intra-squad game on Sunday morning.

Projected starting lineup employed Sunday
It was essentially the Cardinals' prospective starting lineup that faced Washington starter Tanner Roark in Sunday's 4-3 win. The possible exception was Jose Martinez playing first base while Carpenter, the projected starter, took some swings in an intra-squad game back in Jupiter.

However, Martinez, batting from the third spot in the order, made the most of his opportunity. The 29-year-old blasted a two-run homer well over the left-field fence in his first at-bat. Martinez belted 14 home runs in 272 at-bats for the Cardinals last season.

Video: STL@WSH: Jo. Martinez hits tape-measure two-run homer

The starting lineup also included Kolten Wong at second with Paul DeJong at short and Jedd Gyorko at third base. Yadier Molina was behind the plate, while Marcell Ozuna started in left, Tommy Pham in center, and Dexter Fowler in right field.

Cards lead Majors in stolen bases
Entering Sunday's game, the Cardinals led the Major Leagues with 20 stolen bases in 26 attempts this spring. Wong led the way with six, which tied for the league lead. Oscar Mercado ranked third, with five steals.

Video: MIN@STL: Mercado steals second base in the 5th inning

"We've got a little speed between Dex, Tommy, Kolten, all bringing a component of speed," Matheny said.

Position battle
Martinez went 2-for-4 with a homer and two RBIs, hitting the ball hard in all four trips to the plate. He and Carpenter are projected to get most of the playing time at first base. The versatile Martinez appeared in 106 games for the Cardinals last season, 33 of those at first base.

Cards make moves
The Cardinals announced roster moves following Sunday's game. Among them was outfielder Tyler O'Neill, who missed more than half of Spring Training with an oblique injury and pulled a hamstring in his first game back.

"It's really sad -- we were hoping to get more of a look at him," Matheny said. "Keeping him around here and making him constantly think that he's right on the edge [of making the team] especially with a hammy, I think that's dangerous.

"He's got to get this right and we know enough about him. If he's a guy that's going when we need help, here he comes."

In all, nine players were sent out of big league camp, including six pitchers. Pitcher Austin Gomber and infielder Edmundo Sosa, along with O'Neill, were re-assigned to Triple-A Memphis, and pitchers Derian Gonzalez and Conner Greene will join Double-A Springfield. Non-roster pitchers Ryan Helsley, Dakota Hudson and Arturo Reyes, along with infielder Tommy Edman, were also re-assigned to Minor League camp.

"It's time," Matheny said. "A number of those look to be [starting pitchers] -- they've got to go get stretched out and get ready for the opening of their [Minor League] season. We're going to have less innings for them, less at-bats [for position players]."

Up next
The Cardinals are off from Grapefruit League play on Monday but return on Tuesday to face the Marlins in Jupiter for a 12:05 p.m. CT game. Right-hander Carlos Martinez is scheduled to make his third Grapefruit League start. The game will be broadcast live on Gameday Audio.

Glenn Sattell is a contributor to MLB.com who covered the Cardinals on Sunday.

St. Louis Cardinals, Matt Carpenter, Jose Martinez, Tyler O'Neill