ST. LOUIS — Baseball is back. And both fans and players alike are ready to get back on the field.
You can count Cardinals third baseman/designated hitter Matt Carpenter among those players chomping at the bit to start playing again.
5 On Your Side sports director Frank Cusumano had Carpenter on his radio show Thursday to talk about his outlook on the shortened season, playing without fans and any fear of the virus.
"I've never been more excited for a season because of what you just mentioned. April is always a struggle for me. So I basically got to miss the worst two months of every season of my career. We basically got to just eliminate it. So I'm getting to jump into a season of the best month of hitting I usually have. And for me, a lot of it, and I really do believe this, is not so much as getting off to a slow start. It's the weather," Carpenter said. "As a guy who doesn't wear batting gloves and who hits balls in the air, at Busch Stadium where the ball doesn't carry as well early on, I feel that's a big part of why I struggle. To be able to just kind of go into the summer months of when I'm feeling good and when it's nice and hot out and my hands are feeling good and quick. I'm really looking forward to what kind of season I can have in this quick little 60 game sprint."
Carpenter will likely see time at third base and designated hitter this season for the Cardinals. This will be the first year in Major League history where a DH will be instituted in both leagues.
Carpenter has been working out in Texas during the COVID-19 pandemic, and getting in ground ball work and batting practice at a local high school field.
When it comes to playing with no fans in the stands when the season does get underway in late July, Carpenter knows it's going to be a weird feeling.
"We're gonna have to kind of bring out our own energy every day to that ballpark," Carpenter said.
This past week, multiple Major League teams have reported players testing positive for the coronavirus. The Cardinals have yet to report any cases. Carpenter said he knows it's a risk, but it's still worth it to play.
"I might be the crazy person, but I don't have a ton of fear. Not to downplay the virus. I do think there is an element and age group and preexisting health conditions where some caution needs to be taken. But for me, and I think our team for the most part feels the same way, we really just want to get back on the field and bring baseball back to our country," Carpenter said. "And we do that by getting out there. And if it comes at the risk of getting it, it is what it is. You just kind of roll with the punches I guess. It's a risk we're willing to take I guess is the easiest way to put it."
Carpenter and the Cardinals are slated to report to Busch Stadium for "spring training 2.0" on July 3.