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Expectations even higher for Cards' Carpenter

The SportsXchange

JUPITER, Fla. -- After a breakout season, second baseman turned third baseman Matt Carpenter is looking for even more this year, even though he led the National League in hits, runs and doubles last year.

"The thing that I'm so excited about ... is there are expectations," Carpenter told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "This is the first time in my career that I've had that chance, that I've had those expectations. Think about it. Every year, it's been like 'maybe he'll make the team.' Then the next year, it's' maybe he'll play second base.' For the first time in my career, I get a chance to live up to an expectation. My goal is to exceed those."

Carpenter, 28, had nearly 800 plate appearances, counting postseason play and admitted he barely could move off his couch for a couple of weeks after the season was over. And now, a year removed from the arbitration process, the Cardinals and Carpenter might reach a multi-year agreement much like they did with young cleanup man Allen Craig last year.

"Things can manifest," general manager John Mozeliak said. "I would imagine that he's going to be a part of this team for a while. I would hope so."

Said Carpenter: "If something like that happens I would be grateful for it."

Among other highlights in his first season as a regular, Carpenter made his first All-Star team, gained his first Silver Slugger Award (he batted .318) and he finished fourth in the Most Valuable Player balloting.

NOTES, QUOTES

-- New 2B Mark Elllis, a free agent from the Los Angeles Dodgers, said he had signed on with the Cardinals this year for one year at $5.25 million to have a shot at the World Series he never has played in. "You look at the opportunities that are presented for you and I thought this was my best chance," Ellis said. "You can't predict who's going to have a great season or who's going to have a good team. But you can narrow it down to teams you think have the best chance and this is why I'm here."

-- SS Pete Kozma, who slipped to .217 last year, is fighting to maintain a roster spot. Hitting coach John Mabry said Kozma had been working diligently in the cage and that he had seen progress. "The biggest part of the game up here is adjustments," Mabry said. "A guy comes up and he'll have some success because there's not much scouting on him. Pitchers take a little time to figure how they can get him out and then comes the adjustment. Through advance scouting and scouting through video, they figure out the holes and then they attack the holes. You just keep working. He's definitely putting the work in and his swing actually looks really good, at this point."

-- Manager Mike Matheny, a former catcher, is being proactive on dealing with whatever the new concussion rule turns out to be. Early in camp, he was working with his catchers on how to defense the slide. "We're moving forward that it's a must-slide, must-tag play," Matheny said. "We have to completely revamp the mechanics from where we set up to where and how we go about (placing) a tag. Our catchers have been extremely open to it, understanding the reasons, and they've adapted real well. ... We're going to be prepared."

-- LH reliever Kevin Siegrist skipped what would have been his third bullpen session because of soreness in his left side. Siegrist said he was "not overly concerned" by the discomfort.

-- RH reliever Jason Motte isn't quite on the same program as the other pitchers but he is throwing off the mound to a standing catcher. Motte, recovering from Tommy John surgery a year ago, might be ready by April to move back into the Cardinals' bullpen.

QUOTE TO NOTE

"It's fixed whatever I needed to fix in there. Now I have to stay on top of it so it doesn't become an issue again." -- LHP Jaime Garcia on the surgery he had last year to repair a labrum condition that had bothered him for two years.
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