The Cardinals Major League Notebook 03/14

Right-hander Chris Carpenter, rebounding from two years of arm problems and two surgeries, reeled off eight scoreless innings in his first three Grapefruit League outings, including four innings of two-hit ball against Boston.

Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan said of Carpenter, "I had no expectations. I had no idea what to expect. Now, if you had asked me what I hoped would happen ... so far, this is it." Carpenter, who probably had higher expectations than the team's staff, said, "Results-wise, it's obviously been pretty good. It's gone the way that I'd hoped so far."

In 2007, Carpenter had Tommy John elbow surgery after being hurt in the first game of the season. Last offseason he had a nerve near his elbow transposed, and he also had a nerve issue near his shoulder, but he has chosen not to have risky surgery to fix that.

"I'm healthy. That's what counts," Carpenter said.

--2B Skip Schumaker had a strong defensive game March 13, including his first successful double-play pivot, after being given a day off from his new position. He had committed four errors this spring.

--After a slow start, Joe Mather, the third baseman until Troy Glaus heals from offseason surgery, got hot enough to take over the Grapefruit League lead in runs batted in. Manager Tony La Russa said, Mather "has an important part with our club if he'll play first base, left, center and right. I thought he could play third. And now I know he can play third."

--3B Troy Glaus, who was expected to be out until May 1, said he hoped to be able to play in a spring training game before the schedule is over. "Is that a realistic goal? I don't know," Glaus said. "But ... that's what I'm shooting for."

--INF Joe Thurston, who has 10 professional seasons, is making a bid to be an Opening Day roster for the first time. Thurston, who was in the Boston organization last season, said, "You just keep playing and believing it will happen. If you keep believing, it will happen."

--Jason LaRue, the backup catcher, was getting a steady dose of work with Yadier Molina gone to the World Baseball Classic with the Puerto Rican team.

BY THE NUMBERS: 10 -- Walks Albert Pujols had in his first 35 plate appearances this spring.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "If one guy emerges, he becomes the closer. If he doesn't, then they all kind of share it." -- Manager Tony La Russa on the Cardinals' closer situation.

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