Originally posted on Fox Sports Midwest  |  Last updated 12/15/11
ST. LOUIS - Like the rest of the baseball world, Skip Schumaker sat back and watched as Albert Pujols weighed free agent offers and tried to decide where he wanted to play next season. But unlike most, Schumaker's future was directly related to Pujols' decision. With the Cardinals needing every possible penny to try and bring back their slugger, the arbitration eligible Schumaker might have been non-tendered by the club and made a free agent had Pujols returned to St. Louis. Pujols ultimately signed with the Anaheim Angels and the Cardinals were able to use some of the money they saved to sign the versatile Schumaker to a two-year contract before the non-tender deadline Tuesday night. "It kind of came somewhat quick," Schumaker said. "Everything kind of hinged on what Albert was going to do, I assume. Everyone wanted to see what kind of deal he was going to get or if he was coming back and then pick up the pieces from there. "I'm excited to be back. It's all I've known. St. Louis is my baseball home. I'm excited about it." The thought of becoming a free agent for the first time in his career didn't excite Schumaker, who added, "You would have to figure out what your other options were on the free agent market and I didn't really want to go that route. "My family is comfortable in St. Louis. I'm comfortable. Why wouldn't you want to play in front of three million fans every year? I've been with this organization since 2001 so I'm just really comfortable here and I'm excited. Plus I like to win so it's a good deal." The left-handed hitting Schumaker hit .283 with 19 doubles and 38 RBIs for the Cardinals in 367 at-bats. He spent a month on the disabled list with a strained right biceps and struggled at the plate when he returned. After getting his timing back, Schumaker hit .339 (77-for-227) during a three-month stretch from June 5 to September 4 to raise his average to a season-high .303. Schumaker also made great strides defensively, committing just seven errors in 397 chances over 739 innings at second base. But despite the improvements both at the plate and in the field, the veteran doesn't figure to see regular time at second in 2012. Dan Descalso, who contributed mostly at third base in place of David Freese during his rookie year in 2011, is expected to compete for playing time at his natural position of second base. Tyler Greene, who was slated to be the starter at shortstop had the Cardinals not re-signed Rafael Furcal, likely will be in the mix for time at second base as well. That leaves Schumaker as the potential odd man out to serve as the club's fourth outfielder and likely fill a utility role off the bench. "I've talked to everyone about it and Descalso is definitely going to see time at second and Greene is going to give Furcal a couple days off here and there if he makes the club out of spring," Schumaker said. "You never know. Rookies go into funks here and there and if I need to give them a break or whatever it is, I'll be ready. "However the season pans out, whether it's an injury or whatever, I'll be ready to play every day. Whether I'm in the lineup or not, it doesn't matter. I'll be ready for whatever role they want me for." Schumaker is just glad to be back. And the Cardinals appear glad to have him.
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