Cardinals news: Tyler O'Neill and Dylan Carlson comment on center field competiton
Dylan Carlson asked to meet privately with Oli Marmol about the competition
Both Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and John Denton reported that Carlson called a private meeting with Oli Marmol on Tuesday related to the competition and "get a sense of their shared views as camp opens".
When Carlson was asked about the competition, he said simply "Big camp for a lot of people."
While Carlson has entered camp with adjustments to his body, swing, and eyewear in efforts to improve offensively, allowing O'Neill, and to some extent, Lars Nootbaar, to compete for roles in center field shows that Carlson's spot in the outfield may be the shakiest at the moment. John Mozeliak said at the beginning of camp that if the season started today, their outfield would likely be O'Neill, Carlson, and Nootbaar. But if this competition does not spark improvement from Carlson, one of Jordan Walker, Alec Burleson, Juan Yepez, Moises Gomez, or Brendan Donovan could be replacing him in the starting outfield.
I don't think this is a sign that the Cardinals have given up on Carlson. Rather, they are now in a position where they can truly push a young player like Carlson to make steps forward in his game or be replaced by internal options. The Cardinals have too many young, up-and-coming talent to allow players to struggle too long, and Carlson's leash may be the shortest of the bunch.
If Carlson responds well to this competition and hits in an encouraging way, I see no reason why he would not start in center field on Opening Day. But should he struggle, or be outperformed by the club's other options, it appears that St. Louis is very willing to make a change by the end of camp.