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Matt Carpenter

St. Louis Cardinals' Matt Carpenter fist-bumps a teammate after hitting a solo home run during the first inning of an exhibition spring training baseball game against the Miami Marlins, Sunday, March 20, 2016, in Jupiter, Fla. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

JUPITER, Fla. • Matt Carpenter batted first for the Cardinals in Tuesday’s exhibition game against the Washington Nationals, a contest ultimately wiped out by threatening weather. And the third baseman will be hitting there on Sunday, too, as the first batter of the season in Pittsburgh, manager Mike Matheny said Tuesday.

Carpenter swatted 28 homers last season, 22 of them from the leadoff spot, where he averaged .312 to just .225 when he hit second. His production said he should be hitting down in the lineup, where he could drive in more runs. But Carpenter was comfortable there and Matheny left him there the second half of the season.

Carpenter belted 19 of his homers in his last 70 games, mostly as a leadoff hitter, after hitting nine in the first 81, when he batted second with some regularity.

Second baseman Kolten Wong had hoped to be the leadoff man this year but Matheny said he liked what he had seen of Carpenter’s approach this spring. Carpenter already had made it known he would like to stay in the first position.

“Right now, he looks good there and it seems to fit all right,” said Matheny. “You’re always open to different options but also trying to get him right and, at this point, it’s about getting our team ready to go. The best way to get him ready to go is the spot where he looks the best.”

Before Tuesday’s exhibition was canceled more by lightning and thunder than rain, Carpenter singled and walked in his two plate appearances against Washington power pitcher Stephen Strasburg.

“Good at-bats,” said Matheny. “It looked like him.”

Carpenter has hit only .190 for the spring but two of his three walks, even though Tuesday’s didn’t count, have come in his last three games. Last season, he had 81 walks, down from a league-leading 95 the year before.

It would appear that Stephen Piscotty will hit second, Matt Holliday third and Randal Grichuk fourth. Then, the lineup might be a mix-and-match affair, with catcher Yadier Molina likely not hitting eighth because it would be difficult for a pitcher to bunt him to second base.

If Jedd Gyorko, who has some extra-base pop, plays shortstop, he would be more likely to hit sixth than eighth, which is the spot where Ruben Tejada has been hitting when he’s played. Either Matt Adams or Brandon Moss could hit fifth, with Molina possibly turning up at seventh. Wong could be eighth if Gyorko is playing and sixth when Tejada is at short.

If Piscotty, Holliday and Grichuk batted in succession, that would be three consecutive righthanded hitters stacked together. Matheny said that wouldn’t bother him.

“I’d stack eight of them. I’m not concerned about that,” he said.


Righthander Mitch Harris, who will head to the disabled list with an arm problem, said a nerve issue he was experiencing has been tamed and he expects to be able to begin throwing again in the next few days. Harris has been told he will stay here to rehabilitate and, when he is able to pitch in games, he will do that here, either in extended spring training or even for the Florida State League team.

“Everything feels great,” said Harris. “I think I’ll be ready pretty quickly, knowing how I feel right now.”

Lance Lynn, already out for the year after having elbow surgery, said he felt no ill effects of tossing from 60 feet the day before.

“The first step of the process,” said Lynn. “It has to start somewhere.”

The righthander, who has had four consecutive double-figure win seasons, will join the team for the first home stand in St. Louis and then return here to rehabilitate.


The way Matheny has his pitchers lined up for the rest of the exhibition season, Michael Wacha will pitch the second game of the season behind Adam Wainwright in Pittsburgh and Mike Leake would have the third, with Jaime Garcia and Carlos Martinez to start the first two games of a series in Atlanta. “That’s how it’s been,” said Matheny. “We’re staying the same. I don’t know of anything that would get in the way, at this point.”

Backup catcher Brayan Pena, who has had a sore knee, said he was fine now and Matheny said Pena would catch Wednesday’s game. ... Reliever Jonathan Broxton, who was weathered out of an appearance Tuesday, threw a session in the batting cage. ... Reliever Jordan Walden, who had to stop pitching for a week or so because of an issue near his shoulder, said he felt good Tuesday and is expected to pitch on Wednesday. ... If Tuesday’s game had been resumed, Matheny said he would have pulled his regulars. “It (was) going to be a minor league team,” he said. “I’m just real hesitant to throw our guys back out there.”

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