ST. LOUIS — The latest Chris Carpenter comeback is about to get interesting.
After throwing full-speed batting practice to several Cardinals hitters Wednesday afternoon, the team said Carpenter will make his first rehab start Monday at Double-A Springfield. He is expected to throw about 60 pitches, manager Mike Matheny said.
Once Carpenter begins a rehab assignment, he could spend a maximum of 30 consecutive days in the minors. At any point in the rehab, the Cardinals could bring Carpenter to the majors.
“My stuff is good,” Carpenter said. “I made consistent quality pitches down in the strike zone. I felt good and that’s key. I was excited about it.”
He added that his stuff felt as sharp Wednesday as at any time during a comeback process that is nearing three months. “It’s definitely continuing to get better,” he said.
Carpenter, 37, was not expected to pitch this season after he was shut down before the start of spring training because of reoccurring nerve issues in his neck and shoulder. His right arm started feeling better when he was playing catch with his son in late April. Carpenter soon started a process that has gone slowly but steadily.
If Carpenter shows in his rehab starts that he can handle a spot in the Cardinals’ rotation, the club might be less inclined to pursue a starting pitcher on the trade market. Barring any setbacks, Carpenter would have time to make at least three starts before the July 31 trade deadline.
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