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Chris Carpenter throws two-inning simulated game

Mar 18, 2012, 4:08 PM EDT

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Cardinals right-hander Chris Carpenter took a big step in the right direction Sunday, throwing two simulated innings to a group of teammates in camp.

Carpenter was diagnosed earlier this month with a bulging cervical disc in his neck and has not yet appeared in a Grapefruit League game. But he’s beginning to make progress and might not have to miss a turn in the regular-season starting rotation if he’s able to avoid setbacks from here on out.

“It was a good step,” Carpenter told reporters after Sunday’s workout, per Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I was excited to get back out there and throw a little bit. Now we move on to the next step. Hopefully, I wake up good enough tomorrow and go out and do that again sometime soon.”

Carpenter will need at least three exhibition outings to get properly geared up for April.

The 36-year-old right-hander registered a 3.45 ERA and 191/55 K/BB ratio across a league-leading 237 1/3 innings last year for the Cardinals before going 4-0 with a 3.25 ERA in six postseason starts.

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