The infield-shuffle that Cardinals fans prepared for will be starting in April and now includes third base. Despite a promising MRI, hometown hero David Freese has been placed on the DL after a brutal fall on his tailbone. This pushes Matt Carpenter to his natural third base position for the upcoming start to the regular season. Freese’s most recent ailment will not cause immediate consequences for the already banged up infield or the tattered lineup, however, if inflammation turns into bulging discs and the always scary “backeotomy” is mentioned, then there could be cause for anxiety.
Carpenter’s gorgeous backhand grab and perfect throw today in Florida should remind Cardinal Nation that this Carp is a gamer too, especially when grazing in his natural environment. “Little Carp” has gone through extremes this off-season and preseason. He learned second base, and showed that he was capable, or at least as proficient as Daniel Descalso. Now Carpenter is showing his habitual skills at the corner while Freese does yoga stretches and goes hot tub hopping.
It all sounds kosher like the delicious dogs at Busch, right? Maybe, but it is premature to order caramelized onions and kraut. Freese and Carpenter had (in 2012) nearly identical fielding percentages, batting averages, on base percentages and ability to drive runners home. Looking towards the spring, it should be fine, but it could create pickles for other infielders.
The original infield shuffle was going to be simple, give him a day-off here and insert the fiery bat there. But now, it has progressed into something much more complicated. It is comforting that Ryan Jackson is on the roster (while Freese is out) to help Pete Kozma if and when his glove fails him, but who is there to backup Descalso? Will DD and Matty Carp swap/rotate positions according to their production? Will Ty Wigginton be forced to play a more significant role than he is able to? Hopefully each will stay in their comfort zones. But maybe with the need to give Matt Adams at bats there will be more rearranging than initially expected. This conceivable volatility could be detrimental for players who are getting into the rhythm of playing everyday or finding their role from the dug-out.
With all of the injuries in the St. Louis organization so far in 2013 it is absolutely amazing that the glass hasn’t been smashed yet. Hopefully Freese’s stay on the DL is shorter than David Eckstein, and with any luck Ty Wigginton actually makes the team, so he can show the young guys how to be a back up.