After all those early-morning drills and after all that game time Matt Carpenter accumulated at second base this spring, Carpenter is likely to start the season as the Cardinals’ third baseman, with David Freese out with a sore back.

That is the position Carpenter has played the most, but he said he wished it hadn’t happened this way.

“I don’t like the reason why I’m going over there,” said Carpenter. “David is a big part of this team and losing him is not something any of us was hoping for.

“That’s unfortunate. But, as to how I feel over there, I feel good. That’s my natural position,” said Carpenter, who made 22 starts at third for the Cardinals last year.

Carpenter said that learning the unfamiliar second base position actually has made him better at third base.

“Playing second base for the first time, I could really get in the center of the field and see the whole game and watch how Yadi (catcher Yadier Molina) calls pitches,” Carpenter said.