Former Cy Young award winner Chris Carpenter took another step toward possibly returning to the mound by tossing a pain-free bullpen session prior to Friday night’s game with the Colorado Rockies.
The 38-year-old’s career appeared as if it may be over when it was announced in February that he was unlikely to pitch in 2013 as he was still suffering from chronic pain in his neck, shoulder and arm. Those same symptoms shelved Carpenter for 150 games last season, though he returned late and pitched in the postseason.
But when his arm felt pain free this spring after playing catch with his 10-year-old son Sam, Carpenter notified Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak and was given the go ahead to try again. Friday’s bullpen session was the fourth for the 38-year-old Carpenter, who tossed about 70 pitches, including a wide variety of breaking balls.
”My arm has come back and I feel strong,” Carpenter said. ”I’m not trying to be a hero or do anything crazy. I just want to go out and see if I can pitch.”
Manager Mike Matheny and pitching coach Derek Lilliquist watched Carpenter’s session. Matheny said he was impressed.
”I’m excited for him,” Matheny said. ”We didn’t know exactly what we were dealing with at this time in his career. But fortunately, he made a (good) turn and he feels better. He looks good.”
Carpenter is 144-94 for his career, which has been beset by injuries that have cost him the better part of five seasons. He knows not to get too excited about a bullpen session.
”I’m not going to have super-high expectations,” Carpenter said. ”But as long as it continues to go well, I’m going to go out there and take that next step.”