Carpenter presents as a potentially ideal designated hitter candidate if the position is instituted universally for the abbreviated 2020 regular season, Will Laws of SI.com reports. Laws makes a case for one DH candidate for every National League team, and Carpenter gets his nod on the Cardinals for a couple of reasons. One is the fact that slotting in the veteran at DH would allow him to solely focus on fixing the offensive side of his game after he slumped to a .226/.334/.392 line across 492 plate appearances in 2019. Another is that removing Carpenter from the defensive equation would allow Tommy Edman to potentially slot in at third base on an everyday basis, which would in turn possibly lead to more outfield playing time for a promising prospect like Lane Thomas. Last season notwithstanding, Carpenter's past body of work lends credence to the notion he could thrive in a DH capacity, as he racked up a career-best 78 extra-base hits (42 doubles, 36 home runs) and .523 slugging percentage in 2018.
Carpenter had some encouraging at-bats over the last two Grapefruit League games before spring training was suspended, Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Hummel notes Carpenter drew three walks and slugged an opposite-field home run off the Mets' Jacob deGrom in his last five plate appearances before play was paused. The round tripper was especially noteworthy, not only because it came against a two-time Cy Young award winner, but because the veteran had been focusing on hitting the ball the other way all spring after frequently falling victim to the shift during a 2019 season in which he hit just .226. Hummel also reports Carpenter appeared to be much more confident this spring despite hitting just .235 (4-for-17) during eight Grapefruit League contests, and that the 34-year-old should have a chance to see more standard defensive alignments as a No. 2 hitter whenever projected leadoff man and stolen-base threat Kolten Wong gets on base ahead of him.
Carpenter went 1-for-3 with a two-run home run in a Grapefruit League tie against the Mets on Thursday. Carpenter struggled with some relatively minor back issues earlier in Grapefruit League play, but he's subsequently been able to suit up for three games without issues. The two-run round tripper Thursday was Carpenter's third spring hit and first of the extra-base variety. The veteran is looking to rebound from an injury-shortened and sub-par season in 2019, one that saw him generate the second-lowest batting average (.226), on-base percentage (.334) and slugging percentage (.392) of his career.
Carpenter (back) will start at third base and bat third in Monday's Grapefruit League game against the Twins, Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. A bout of back tightness kept Carpenter out of the lineup for the Cardinals' previous four spring games, but the veteran gained clearance to rejoin the starting nine after he was able to complete full workouts over the weekend without incident. Before his brief shutdown, Carpenter had made two starts this spring, going 2-for-4 at the dish.
Carpenter (back) will be in the lineup for Monday's Grapefruit League game against the Twins, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Carpenter was previously expected to rejoin the lineup sometime this weekend, but he's instead been taking batting practice and fielding ground balls. Regardless, it doesn't appear the back issue will impact the veteran infielder's availability for Opening Day, barring a setback.