Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Matheny: Carpenter Has an Eye for Leading Off

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Matheny: Carpenter Has an Eye for Leading Off

Article excerpt

PHILADELPHIA * When Cardinals manager Mike Matheny alerted Matt Carpenter that he could see some turns as the team's leadoff hitter this season it didn't surprise the second-year infielder, nor did it Thursday when he made his first big-league start atop the order.

At every level, it's happened eventually.

"At some point it does just because of the style of hitter that I am," said Carpenter, who brought a .296 average this season into Thursday's game. "I've always been pretty good at drawing walks and finding a way on base. I always go through a spell where it's been an option."

Coming off Wednesday's shutout and facing Philadelphia lefty Cole Hamels, Matheny shuffled the top of the order. Carpenter moved from No. 2, where he's hit often this season, to No. 1, where he had never hit as a starter in the majors. Usual leadoff hitter Jon Jay, who had a .246 average before striking out in his first two at-bats against Hamels, moved to No. 7 in the order.

Several times in the opening weeks of the season, Matheny has lauded Carpenter's ability to get on base. After he took a series of borderline pitches in San Francisco to work back from an 0-2 count, Matheny said holding back from pitches he knows he can't handle is something Carpenter "does as well as anybody in the league it's strike zone awareness." Carpenter started Thursday second on the team to Matt Holliday in walks. Holliday has eight, Carpenter has five.

"To be able to take a borderline pitch one that's away from the zone he's really shown a great ability to just put up tough at- bats," Matheny said. "Right now he has such a knowledge of balls that he can hit hard. He's waiting for a pitch in a particular area or a particular pitch depending on who he's facing. It's a good approach. Not everybody can get away with it because not everybody has the knowledge of the strike zone and the ability to see the ball the way he does."

Carpenter came to Philadelphia in a two-for-19 funk and against lefthanded pitchers the lefthanded batter was hitting .250 (three for 12). But he'd yet to strike out against a lefty this season and he worked them for three walks. Carpenter leads the Cardinals in average pitches per plate appearance, 4. …

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