A former Cy Young Award winner, St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter has not had the best luck over the last year, or his whole career for that matter. Carpenter was limited to three late-season starts in 2012 because of a nerve condition in his neck and shoulder, and the problem continued to plague him during the offseason, resulting in the news that came out in early February that the pitcher would likely miss the 2013 season and possibly retire.
However, Carpenter ended those rumors before spring training kicked off and began a throwing program in late April. He looked solid in two bullpen sessions on May 27 and 30, leading to him throwing to teammates Matt Adams and Shane Robinson on June 3 for the first time since he began his comeback. Carpenter endured a setback on June 16 when his back tightened after working with weights and pitching another bullpen session. He got good news, though, just five days later as doctors cleared him to resume his rehabilitation. Carpenter most recently pitched what he said was around a 106-pitch bullpen session on Friday.
With all that has been going on in Carpenter’s rehab, it is a very positive sign that the 38-year-old pitcher is already throwing over 100 pitches in bullpen sessions. According to Carpenter, his bullpen outing on Friday was the best he had thrown since he started back. Manager Mike Matheny told the Associated Press that Carpenter was in great shape and his stamina was coming back.
The prognosis for Carpenter appears to getting better by the day. The Cardinals originally planned to try and bring him back in a reliever role, but it seems more and more likely that he will be able to come back as the fifth starter to round out the rotation. The Cardinals have worked with a four-man rotation for much of the season and have been rumored to be shopping around for another starting pitcher to fill out the slate. But if Carpenter keeps up the way he has been, he could return late in July to early August and allow the Cardinals to add a reliever to shore up the bullpen instead of trading for a starter. Either way, whether it’s starting on the mound or coming out of the bullpen, Carpenter will be back in the Cardinals’ lineup this season.