ST. LOUIS Chris Carpenter, who has been trudging toward a comeback that at one time seemed impossible, made the second start of his 2013 rehab stint on Saturday.
It could have gone better.
Carpenter, who started for Triple-A Memphis, surrendered four earned runs, nine hits and two walks in 3 1/3 innings against the Oklahoma City RedHawks. Forty-nine of his 74 pitches were strikes.
“My stuff just wasn’t that sharp,” Carpenter told Corey Noles of The Daily Statesman.
“No life on my heater. My curveball was rolling.”
The Cardinals shut down Carpenter, 38, before the start of spring training due to nerve issues in his neck and throwing shoulder. But something changed for the better in late April, an improvement Carpenter noticed while playing catch with his son. The return process started, and has since wound through minor setbacks like a tight back and a tired arm.
In his first rehab outing on Monday, Carpenter threw 54 pitches (38 strikes) in a 2 2/3 start with Double-A Springfield. He allowed six hits, three runs (two earned) and struck out five. Carpenter said that outing was considerably better than Saturday’s.
The pitcher can remain on the 30-day rehab assignment until Aug. 13, meaning he will likely get one or two more starts in Memphis. Then, the Cardinals will have to make a decision about placing him on the 25-man roster.
“If I’m not going to help them, I’m not going to go out there and embarrass myself,” Carpenter said. “I can tell you that right now.”
“If I have the ability to make an impact on the club, I will. If I don’t, I won’t.”
Here’s an inning-by-inning summary of how Carpenter fared Saturday:
Carpenter surrendered a leadoff single that was erased by a double play. A groundout followed, and the inning was over. Pitch Count: 10
Carpenter captured two outs before Oklahoma City’s Jimmy Paredes and Jonathan Singleton hit back-to-back singles to right field. With two outs and two runners on, Carpenter threw three consecutive balls to Jose Martinez, who eventually walked. Carlos Perez singled to right field on a 2-1 pitch with the bases loaded, scoring two. Perez was thrown at second base on the play, ending the inning. Pitch Count: 37
Robbie Grossman turned a six-pitch at-bat into a triple to right field. Jonathan Villar then walked after a 10-pitch at-bat. The next two batters grounded out. But then Marwin Gonzalez drove in two runs on a single through the infield. Another batter singled before Carpenter ended the inning on a three-pitch strikeout. Pitch Count: 65
Carpenter surrendered a single before striking out Perez. After Grossman singled to right field, Carpenter was pulled from the game. Pitch Count: 74
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