Cardinals to mix things up at third base

Thursday, March 2, 2017
FILE - In a Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016 file photo, St. Louis Cardinals Jedd Gyorko celebrates in the dugout after hitting a solo home run off Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Dan Straily in the first inning of a baseball game, in Cincinnati. After an injury-riddled season a year ago, St. Louis Jhonny Peralta enters this spring lookin for playing time anywhere he can get it. The only problem for the 34-year-old is a spring competition with Jedd Gyorko at third base and the emergence of standout Aledmys Diaz at shortstop. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

JUPITER, Fla. -- Third base figures to be an experiment for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Matt Carpenter has moved across the diamond to first, leaving Jhonny Peralta and Jedd Gyorko to compete for time at the hot corner.

A three-time All-Star shortstop, Peralta had not played third base regularly since 2010 until making the switch last year. Gyorko, a utility infielder who led the Cardinals with 30 home runs last year, has made just 38 starts at third in four big league seasons.

A spring training thumb injury caused Peralta to miss the season's first nine weeks last year, and rookie shortstop Aledmys Diaz emerged to hit .300 with 17 homers before he was hit on a hand by a pitch on July 31, ending his season.

Diaz is now the projected starter at shortstop. The 35-year-old Peralta is trying to earn the third-base job in the final season of a $52 million, four-year contract.

Peralta is lauded for positioning and hands but criticized for a lack of range. He had his first spring training hit of the year Wednesday in a 6-1 win over the New York Mets.

Gyorko played at least 11 games at every infield position last year and had three hits, including a double, in his first six at-bats of spring training. He made 28 starts last year at third, his first there since his rookie year in 2013.

"That was big to get back over there," he said. "You just never know what's going to happen."

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