Like most of Cardinals Nation, Matt Carpenter is excited about Marcell Ozuna being acquired in a trade with Miami.

“Certainly anytime you add a bat of his caliber to the lineup, it’s going to change a lot of things,” said Carpenter. “He won a Silver Slugger last year, won a Gold Glove so you add anybody of that caliber to any team it’s going to make you better. It’s a big addition, really happy to have him, and can’t wait to get out there and see him with that Cardinal red on.”

Enthusiastic as he was about the arrival of Ozuna, Carpenter also noted Stephen Piscotty will be missed from the clubhouse.

“We had a chance to chat–super great guy, super good teammate, we’re going to miss him,” said Matt. “Life is certainly way bigger than baseball and he’s got some much needed time with his mom and with his family there on the West Coast. It was just a classy move by the Cardinals to grant him that. Certainly, we’re going to miss him but we wish him the best.”

In St. Peters for an autograph signing, Carpenter arrived Thursday afternoon to hand out a few early Christmas gifts in conjunction with Cardinals Care and Academy Sports.

“We were able to giveaway 120 bikes today to some very special kids,” shared Carpenter, who received his own first bike from Santa a few years back. “Pretty sure it was a Huffy–that we probably got from Academy.”

The trip back into childhood will continue later today for Carpenter, who will join an area 2nd grader who won the “Take Matt To School” contest put on through the sports retailer. Then it’s back to his training for 2018.

“I’m just going into it like I do every off-season with the mindset of knowing that I probably will bounce around,” said Carpenter. “I’m certainly excited to have what I call my ‘security blanket’ back in Jose Oquendo. He’s a guy who I really give a lot of credit to my ability to play multiple positions.

“He’s certainly had a huge impact on me. To be able to get him back and be able to go down and work with him, not just in Spring Training, but through out the year–that’s going to be a big thing for me.”

The transition to more specific baseball activity such as getting reps at first and third base or the outfield will take place after Christmas. Right now, Carpenter has been concentrating on agility, strength, and conditioning.

“Always trying to work on your speed and your explosiveness,” he explained. “Doing whatever I can to gain an extra step. That’s been kind of the goal.”

And the training has not been hampered by the shoulder bursitis which required a cortisone shot late in the season.

“Shoulder feels great,” shared Carpenter. “Having no problems there and hopefully completely past that. I think we’re good.”

photo credit: Bill Greenblatt/UPI