After missing most of the 2012 season with yet another major shoulder injury, St. Louis Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter made a valiant return to the big leagues, coming back to pitch 30.2 innings over six starts down the stretch and through the team’s playoff run.
However, he might have just made his last start:
The team’s announcement of Carpenter’s status will come as a disappointment to Cardinals fans and those who have followed the right-hander’s remarkable career, but it is hardly unexpected. The 37-year-old has long been one of the league’s most impressive workhorses, with four 220+ inning seasons in his last eight years in the bigs, but he is also one of the most unlikeliest players to do so, considering that he has dealt with multiple severe shoulder injuries and a Tommy John surgery–all of which have eaten away entire seasons.
Yet, Carpenter would always find a way to come back and pitch at the highest level in the game. A three-time All-Star and former NL Cy Young winner, Carpenter has been consistently one of the best pitchers in the major leagues since arriving in St. Louis from the Toronto Blue Jays. That the Bluebirds gave up on what they perceived to be an injury risk is something that still stings the franchise and its fans to this day.
The official word from the team is that Carpenter is unlikely to pitch this season, but all signs point to his pending retirement, with manager Mike Matheny telling the press that he things it’s “very unlikely” for Carp to take the mound again. That’s quite a stark change from just several weeks ago, when the big righty reported that he was feeling fine while going through him throwing program in the off-season and that he was looking forward to a healthy 2013.
Unfortunately, the same issues that caused him to miss almost the entire season flared up between then and now, and this time, Carpenter might simply not have another remarkable comeback in the him in what would have been his age-38 season.