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|Hoffpauir reporting for spring training|
Spring training just got a lot more interesting for Vidalia native Jarrett Hoffpauir.
With the sudden release of second baseman Adam Kennedy, the Cardinal second base position just became open. And Hoffpauir is one of the candidates to fill it.
"Obviously I was a little surprised," Hoffpauir said. "At first I had two different reactions because I was not sure if they were going to sign anybody or promote someone from the organization. The latest is that they are going to let four or five guys battle for it, which is a good thing. I'm excited about going into spring training and trying not to worry about it too much, just go in and do what I can do."
Hoffpauir reports Saturday to the Cardinals' spring training site in Jupiter, Fla.
"I am going to try and stay there as long as I can," he said. "I am going to do my best to make it a tough decision on who will win the job."
Hoffpauir spent last year in Jupiter before returning to Memphis where he batted .273 and had four home runs. He led the team with 32 doubles and had a slugging percentage of .383.
"Last year I went to Jupiter pretty much blind about what I would be doing," Hoffpauir said. "Now I know the guys, know what to expect and know what I need to take care of."
Hoffpauir attended a Winter Warm-Up in St. Louis two weeks ago in which all St. Louis Cardinal fans signed autographs for fans.
"It was chaos with all the fans," he said. "It was more people than I could imagine. It was definitely a good experience."
Hoffpauir was invited to a team dinner by St. Louis manager Tony LaRussa.
"That was pretty cool," he said. "It was great to spend time with a lot of the big-league guys."
The Cardinals' spring training schedule opens Feb. 25 with a game against Florida in Jupiter.
Spring training ends on April 4 as the Cardinals will play two games at Memphis against the Redbirds.
"Even if I don't make the major league roster that would give me another opportunity to let the guys know I can play with the big boys," Hoffpauir said. "I'm just going into the spring with the idea of playing the best I can and hopefully turning some heads."
Second base has been a revolving door for the Cardinals through the years.
Since Fernando Vina played 150 games at the position in 2002, he and 20 other Cardinals have played the position for La Russa. Sixteen different Cardinals have started at least a game at second base. The list of second baseman the Cardinals have used range from Aaron Miles and Mark Grudzielanek (each with at least 130 appearances at the position) to Albert Pujols and Rico Washington (each with one).
Kennedy, who was at the St. Louis Winter Warm-up, leaves the Cardinals with one year remaining on his contract.
Of the possible replacements for Kennedy, Hoffpauir is joined by Brendan Ryan, who played 40 games at that position last year for the Cardinals while also hitting .279 for the Redbirds.
Other candidates include Brian Barden, who hit .285 for the Redbirds last year, Joe Thurston, who played 15 games at second base in the majors, Tyler Greene, who its .297 at Memphis last year and Skip Schumaker.
"I pretty much know a lot of the other guys, playing with them," Hoffpauir said. "I can't get caught up in worrying about what they will do, all I can do is concern myself with how I play on the field."
Hoffpauir also had a memorable winter off the field, becoming engaged to girlfriend Molly Malone of South Carolina. They are planning on being married late this year.
Which may be another reasons he feels he is in the best shape mentally and physically going into the season.
"I feel as good as I have ever felt," he said. "I was not real happy with my trainer last year so I got a new one and I feel stronger and a lot more satisfied with where I am right now. I'm looking forward to a good season."
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