St. Louis Cardinals: Matt Carpenter Dealing With Back Stiffness

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Aug 10, 2016; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Matt Carpenter (13) hits a triple off of Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Anthony DeSclafani (not pictured) during the third inning at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 10, 2016; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Matt Carpenter (13) hits a triple off of Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Anthony DeSclafani (not pictured) during the third inning at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports /
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Matt Carpenter, the St. Louis Cardinals new first baseman and no. 3 hitter, was scratched from Thursday’s lineup against the Atlanta Braves.

The St. Louis Cardinals are taking it slow with Matt Carpenter, who has been dealing with some tightness in his lower back. The stiffness isn’t expected to persist for long, but Carpenter isn’t expected to participate in the World Baseball Classic as a result.

The initial plan for Carpenter was to play this weekend and Monday with the Cardinals and then join Team USA for the WBC, which runs from March 6 to March 22. He hit on Friday but was again absent from the lineup. He’s likely to rest for at least a week before returning to the lineup.

Carpenter described the situation as “day to day” and manager Mike Matheny said the team would follow Carpenter’s lead.

The WBC provides an option for teams to add pitchers as the rounds progress, but no such provision exists for position players.

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For Carpenter, of course, this is a bummer. Representing Team USA is an honor he’s earned. He also mentioned it would be a great opportunity to pick the minds of fellow first baseman, a position he’ll play with more regularity this season.

With an infield that includes Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt, Eric Hosmer, Ian Kinsler, and Daniel Murphy, one wonders how much playing time Carpenter would have gotten with the American squad.

From an organizational perspective, having Carpenter in camp for the entire month wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. Many coaches across the league have voiced concerns about their pitchers participating in the Classic, because it is often difficult to make sure they’re getting just the right amount of work.

Pitchers Carlos Martinez and Seung-Hwan Oh are representing their respective countries. Brett Cecil can be added to the Team USA pitching pool. Ultimately, the organization has to trust the national teams to use them sufficiently and appropriately.

Carpenter spent time on the disabled list last season because of a strained oblique muscle. The stiffness in his lower back could very well be stemming from that area, so it’s wise for him to give it some rest for now.

Next: Checking In On Spring Training

Carpenter and the team will have to play a waiting game in the next few days. The hope is he’ll be back on the field within the week, but the fact that this could be related to the oblique injury he sustained last season is a reason for heightened concern.

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