Frogs in the Pros: Carpenter Makes Emotional Return To St. Louis

Frogs in the Pros: Carpenter Makes Emotional Return To St. Louis

Published August 7, 2022
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© Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

You can always return home. It’s a lesson Matt Carpenter is learning this weekend. Carpenter is now the DH for the New York Yankees, and the Yankees are playing a three-game series this weekend against Carpenter’s former team, the St. Louis Cardinals. It’s Carp’s first time back to St. Louis since leaving the team after the 2021 season and 11 years wearing the Bird on the Bat.

Batting third in the lineup, Carpenter didn’t take long on Friday night to make his first appearance at the plate. The fans greeted Carpenter with a nearly 45-second standing ovation. He then singled on a 3-2 count, which moved a runner from first to third. It was the first of two hits on Friday night for Carpenter.

His TCU coach had this to say:

Carpenter met with members of the media on Friday before the game. He was asked about his family’s reaction to returning to the place they called home, and on two occasions, he got choked up with emotions.

“Just stepping off the plane [Thursday] night and being back in St. Louis, that started it all for me,” he said Friday during the press conference. “My family will be here, and I haven’t seen many of the [Cardinals players] yet, but that will make it hard, for sure. A lot of special memories.

“I was telling somebody earlier that this will be the first three games since 2009 I have not pulled for the St. Louis Cardinals to win. All season, anytime that we’re not playing, and our schedule matches up, I’m watching the guys, checking every box score and legitimately wanting them to win every game. This will be the first three where that’s not the case, but as soon as we leave town, I’ll go right back to being [a Cardinals fan]. It’s going to be weird to compete against them, but being able to separate the emotions will be a challenge.”

Carpenter spent 11 seasons as a Cardinal. His last two years didn’t go as well for him or the team, with him hitting .186 in 2020 and .169 last year. In his first nine years with the team, he hit 148 homers, had a .835 OPS, and was a clutch player during playoff runs.

At the end of last season, he and the Cardinals parted ways. He wasn’t sure then if he’d play baseball again. He wrote a beautiful letter to the fans of St. Louis, which can be seen here.

When Spring Training opened this year, Carpenter signed a minor league contract with the Texas Rangers. He did not make the Opening Day roster and started this season with the Rangers’ Triple-A team in Round Rock. On May 19, he was released by the Rangers. And on May 26, he signed with the Yankees.

Carpenter has not looked back since. He’s taken advantage of the short fence in right field at Yankee Stadium. And he has rediscovered his swing after struggling with it the last two years in St. Louis. He’s become a fan favorite in the Bronx. He’s batting .322, has 15 home runs, 36 RBIs, nine doubles, and his OPS is 1.226

Here’s how his 2022 season compares to his career regular-season stats:

2022 Season

120

28

39

15

36

.325

.434

1.209

Career Regular Season

4523

780

1192

170

612

.264

.369

.826

On Friday before batting practice, Carpenter saw many of his former teammates. His first roommate in the minor leagues was Oliver Marmol, now the manager for the Cardinals.

Horned Frogs have long been a fan of Carpenter and have followed his professional career for over a decade.

He was the Frog’s third baseman from 2005-2009. He earned second-team All-Mountain West Conference in 2006, 2008, and 2009. Carpenter currently ranks second all-time in games played (241), third all-time in at-bats (843), third all-time in hits (263), fourth all-time in doubles (57), and second all-time in walks (150) for the Frogs. He was part of the team that took TCU to their first Super Regional in 2009. That was the year before the first trip to Omaha. That year the Frogs played the #1 national seed, Texas, in the Super Regional in Austin. And it took all three games for Texas to advance to the CWS.

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Barry is the publisher/managing editor for KillerFrogs.com. He has been a Horned Frog since the Jim Wacker era and loves covering all of TCU’s sports.