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🔥When Chris Carpenter speaks, Cardinals listen — or they should🔥

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When Chris Carpenter speaks, Cardinals listen — or they should

St. Louis Cardinals special assistant Chris Carpenter talks with pitcher Jack Flaherty (22) before he throws a bullpen session during St. Louis Cardinals spring training on Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020, in Jupiter, Fla. Photo by Laurie Skrivan, lskrivan@post-dispatch.com

Laurie Skrivan

JUPITER, Fla. — The Cardinals have two respected pitching coaches in Mike Maddux and bullpen coach Bryan Eversgerd. But there always is room for one more set of eyes when Cardinals Hall of Famer Chris Carpenter, a front office assistant, is in town.Maddux welcomes any visit from the 44-year-old Carpenter, who was on two World Series championship teams with the Cardinals and won a Cy Young Award in 2005.“Carp always has golden things to say,” Maddux offered Friday at Cardinals camp. “And I look forward to everything he has to say. He helps a lot of people. And not just players.“He’s very humble and he’s worn every hat that a player can wear. Everything from aspiring prospect to under-performing to rehab performer to elite performer, world champion, Cy Young. He’s worn a lot of hats.”Earlier this week, president of baseball operations John Mozeliak allowed Carpenter to sit in on the organizational meetings preceding the start of camp.“Super fun. I appreciated it,” said Carpenter. “It was really neat to just listen to the knowledge they have on all the players who are going to be here this year. It was something I hadn’t experienced in this role.”Manager Mike Shildt says Carpenter’s influence encompasses a wide sphere.“He’s a little bit of everything,” Shildt said.“He’s got so many different experiences that few people can relate to, and Carp’s able to capture them. Ollie (bench coach Oliver Marmol) and I were talking about Carp last year and what he brings to us, and it’s a lot. Ollie summed it up by saying, ‘Every time Carp speaks, there’s value that comes out of his mouth.’“There’s wisdom in a lot of shapes and forms,” Shildt said. “He’s got the heart to share with people and he’s also got the accountability to back it up. He’s just a wonderful resource for us for a lot of reasons.”One reason, Mozeliak said, is that “Carp is a very sharp, insightful, thoughtful person. If you were a young player, you’d be crazy not to try to tap into this.”Staff ace Jack Flaherty has recognized Carpenter as a resource, and Carpenter, in turn, has some thoughts on Flaherty’s immediate future.“You saw great growth in what Jack did last year,” said Carpenter. “But you have to be super careful in hoping that he’s going to repeat an 0.91 ERA in the second half. The expectation on him should be that he’s going to be that solid guy who’s going to take the ball every fifth day.“I think his growth also is going to take place in that clubhouse where he starts to handle himself as that professional, the one who’s going to take (Adam Wainwright’s) spot when Waino is gone. That’s Jack’s next role.“I think it’s going to be a big step for Jack this year. He’s going to be pulled on by you (media) guys more. Everybody’s going to be talking about money. Everybody’s going to be talking about him repeating what he did last year, that he’s going to be Bob Gibson consistently. Even Bob Gibson can’t do that. And he’s Bob Gibson.“Jack just needs to continually grow in all areas.”Carpenter then had thoughts on other prospective rotation members:“You saw in Dakota (Hudson) as a starter that he was able to make some really good strides. You saw some inconsistencies which are going to happen when you’re young. But you expect to see him grow again.”As for Miles Mikolas, who slipped to 9-14 from 18-4 in his second season back from Japan, Carpenter said, “Miles has No. 1-type stuff. Part of that is command. He can command all of his pitches.“When he comes over and did what he did that first year, I don’t think anybody expected him to be that good, right? Now all of a sudden, there are extra pressures and expectations coming into last year and people thinking, ‘We have to repeat this.’ You’re still talking about a very inexperienced big-league pitcher. He’s going to grow maturity-wise. Part of the maturing process is that you’ve got to learn how to deal with those expectations of success.“That’s just as hard as dealing with failure.”Discussing Carlos Martinez’s projected return to the rotation after presumably overcoming shoulder injuries, Carpenter said, “There’s no question that if you throw Carlos in like he was a few years ago, with health and maturity and the ability to do what he does and put him with Jack and Dakota and Waino and Miles, you’re talking about an elite five guys.“And that’s pretty exciting.”The blueprint for Cardinals success remains the same, Carpenter said.“To be a championship-caliber team, if you don’t pitch and you don’t defend, it doesn’t matter how much you hit,” he said.“It will be interesting to see with (Marcell) Ozuna gone and Jose (Martinez) gone. What people I don’t think saw in Ozuna was his professionalism and the way he competed every day, although everybody can have their opinion … on how he played left field. But he was always in the right spot. He was always doing the best he could and he never took games off. He was always a pro. That’s nice for a pitcher to know that your best players are going to be consistent every day.“It will be interesting to see who takes on that (outfield) role. We definitely have some quality young talent. Unproven talent, but quality. Like Tyler (O’Neill), but you have to keep him on the field. Who knows what he can do? He can do all kinds of great things in this game.“But you can’t count on that. You’ve got to trust that he can be on the field. And Lane Thomas is a quality talent. I really like Lane, and I hope he gets an opportunity.”

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St. Louis Cardinals special assistant Chris Carpenter talks with pitcher Jack Flaherty (22) before he throws a bullpen session during St. Louis Cardinals spring training on Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020, in Jupiter, Fla. Photo by Laurie Skrivan, lskrivan@post-dispatch.com

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