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Chris Carpenter’s comeback keeps chugging along … possibly as a starter

May 16, 2013, 11:19 AM EDT

Chris Carpenter Getty Images

Chris Carpenter threw another problem-free bullpen session yesterday, continuing an unexpected comeback from spine and shoulder problems that initially threatened to end his career.

Instead he’s eying a minor-league rehab assignment at some point within the next two weeks, assuming the 38-year-old can avoid a setback while throwing a few more bullpen sessions.

“I don’t want to get ahead of myself,” Carpenter told Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com. “I want to slowly get back involved and make sure that I’m doing the things that I need to do to be ready when it’s time.”

But here’s a twist: While most people had assumed any comeback would be as a reliever, Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that Carpenter’s work patterns in the bullpen sessions appear to have him conditioning himself to be a starter. Him returning at all would be a helluva story, but as a starter? Wow.

  1. flamethrower101 - May 16, 2013 at 11:24 AM

    Damn. It would be incredible to see him come back. He’s been through a lot the past few season. His performance in 2011 would’ve been a hell of a way to go out but this is a close second

  2. beefytrout - May 16, 2013 at 11:34 AM

    I’m sick of hearing about this guy.

    • stlouis1baseball - May 16, 2013 at 1:15 PM

      Absolutely Trout. I mean…we are just endlessly inundated with article after article with this guy.
      It’s starting to rank up there with the PED articles, the decline of black ballplayer articles, the greedy white devil owner articles, the TJ Simers articles….etc. When. Does. It. Stop?

      *s/

      • beefytrout - May 16, 2013 at 2:15 PM

        Has nothing to do with quantity.

    • stockgrp - May 16, 2013 at 1:43 PM

      sounds like a cubs fan to me

      • beefytrout - May 16, 2013 at 2:14 PM

        Well, you got the time zone right. Everything else… not so much.

      • stlouis1baseball - May 16, 2013 at 2:17 PM

        Rangers fan. That’s why his “nothing to do with quantity” comment is so funny.
        In that light…I would get tired of hearing about him as well (if I were a Texas fan).

      • beefytrout - May 16, 2013 at 2:38 PM

        The real test is when I go to Missouri in June for a family reunion… the same weekend the Rangers are playing in st. louis. Lots of “best fans in baseball” in my family, so I’m gonna get shit from them no matter what.

      • cubfan531 - May 16, 2013 at 5:25 PM

        If Carpenter’s comeback came at Wrigley, he’d get a very solid ovation for having it made back.

        Moreso if as a starter, as the fans won’t be too drunk to tell you the difference between a shortstop, short hop, and short reliever at the beginning of the game.

  3. rufuscornpone - May 16, 2013 at 11:55 AM

    Without Carpenter, the Cardinals starters ERAs are:
    2.30
    1.40
    2.88
    2.88
    1.62

    Now, obviously that won’t hold up all year (after all, Westbrook has a 1.06 K/BB to go along with a 1.62 ERA), but right now the Cardinals have five pitchers humming along just fine….and possibly Chris Carpenter…and Trevor Rosenthal who can be a starter…and Joe Kelly who almost won a rotation spot…and Michael Wacha who is currently sporting a sub-2.00 ERA in Memphis (though I doubt he’d be up this year anyway). This is just ridiculous.

    • blues1988 - May 16, 2013 at 12:15 PM

      don’t forget about little martinez! He’s going to be a stud too! it’s a pretty great time to be a cardinal fan!

    • stlouis1baseball - May 16, 2013 at 1:21 PM

      Yeah…those ERA’s are impressive. Wait! Are we still allowed to lend much credence to a Pitchers ERA? Sorry…it’s just hard to keep up. It seems to change every day.

      *s/

      Back to your post. I would love to see Carp come back in a middle relief role.
      It is painfully obvious that will be the Achilles heel (seemingly all year). A healthy Carp could make a huge difference.

  4. forsch31 - May 16, 2013 at 12:17 PM

    I think the conditioning is more to see where he is physically than actually preparing him as a starter; hence, Carp’s quote that “Then we’re going to know where we go.” A month or so ago, it was assumed his career was toast, and when he stopped by spring training, he sounded like a guy who unexpectedly saw the end of his career. So, they’re dealing with a lot of unknowns, which just goes hand in hand with Carpenter’s nerve condition.

    Post-Dispatch reporter Derrick Goold confirmed as much in his weekly scheduled chat on May 13: “It appears that if/when Carpenter returns and is ready for major-league duty he will take on the role that his performance earns and that is best for his health. There’s some logic/opinion that it will be in the bullpen and that what starts with Carpenter as the seventh-inning answer (ala Mujica, c. 2012) could become Carpenter as a part-time closer and where it goes from there. Performance and health will decide, and those are the best possible determining factors for both parties.”

    Also, in answering a question of why John Gast was called up instead of moving Rosenthal or Kelly from the bullpen to fill Westbrook’s spot in the rotation, Goold responded: “…with the short-term assignment here the Cardinals decided they didn’t want to upset their bullpen organization for a short-term fix. Also, Kelly isn’t conditioned now to go deep into a game.” If Carpenter is capable of being a starter and they continue him on starter workouts, it’s possible they may turn to him first rather than Rosenthal and Kelly if they need one. With the amount of innings and pitches Matheny is currently pushing his starters at, they may need one.

  5. markofapro - May 16, 2013 at 1:30 PM

    You can never go wrong with too much pitching.

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