Yankees giving Matt Carpenter a look in the outfield to get veteran more at-bats – The Denver Post


PITTSBURGH — Could Matt Carpenter be even more valuable to the Yankees? Sunday gave a brief glimpse of how the 36-year-old veteran infielder could see some more at-bats. Committed to keeping slugger Aaron Judge off his feet and giving him two days to rest his legs, Aaron Boone “ripped off the band-aid” and gave Carpenter a try in the outfield.

“I just didn’t want to put [Judge] in the field if I didn’t have to [Sunday] and I was like, ‘Let’s roll with it with Carp,’” Boone said. “It was good to get him out there.”

It had been eight years since Carpenter, who made his name with the Cardinals at third, had played in the outfield. But he eased right back into it with the only play to him in the final inning of a 2-0 loss to the Guardians.

This isn’t a sign that Carpenter is going to be replacing struggling outfielders Joey Gallo or Aaron Hicks anytime soon. It’s another option to get the lefty-hitting Carpenter some pinch hit at-bats. That is exactly the situation that Boone took advantage of Sunday, using him to pinch hit for Marwin Gonzalez.

In the top of the eighth, Boone tapped Carpenter trying to spark an offense that was being shut out by Cleveland. The Yankees skipper also wanted to save Judge’s big bat for an opportunity in the ninth.

So, Carpenter took over for Gonzalez in right field. It was the first time he played the outfield since playing 1.2 innings in the outfield for the Cardinals in 2014. Franmil Reyes grounded a single to score a run through the right side of the infield. Carpenter smoothly fielded it and threw it in.

It’s not like it’s that new of a concept for Carpenter, who has played 118 big league games in the outfield.

But it is a chance to get him more at-bats. Carpenter is slashing .286/.412/.881 with a 1.293 OPS since his late May pick-up. He’s hit eight home runs, a double and driven in 17 runs in 20 games with the Bombers.

It’s quite the dramatic turnaround from 2021, when he hit .169/.305/.275 with three home runs and 21 RBI in 130 games in his final season with St. Louis, where he was a three-time All-Star.

Carpenter spent the winter reworking a swing that he knew was out of sync for the last few years. He signed a minor-league deal with the Rangers looking for another chance and spent the first month in Triple-A.

“It’s [as] simple as my bat path through the zone was not good,” Carpenter said of the change he had to make. “It was in and out for the last two seasons. I could not get it consistently through the zone and now I feel like my swing is consistently in the zone. And if you throw pitches over the plate, I’m able to hit them where versus the last couple of years you could throw it wherever you want, you [could] throw [it] right down the middle, but my swing was so in and out of the zone I had a hard time hitting it.”

After the first month of this season, Carpenter opted out of his deal in Triple-A and the Yankees picked him up on May 26. They’d seen him in spring training, and with Josh Donaldson and Giancarlo Stanton on the injured list at the time, felt he could at least give them competitive at-bats. Carpenter had been home for a week and not sure if that was the end of an 11-year career that included three All-Star appearances.

“I went from really close to it being over to now getting an opportunity. But in the way that it’s happened, on the best team in baseball, a franchise like the New York Yankees to take a shot on me it means a lot‚” Carpenter said. “I’ve really enjoyed it and I’m glad that I can help contribute to a team that’s got a really good chance of winning the World Series.”



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