Stay tuned for Chris Carpenter’s next move — just not as a player

ST. LOUIS — That Chris Carpenter officially announced his retirement Wednesday afternoon wasn’t a surprise.

When the 38-year-old right-hander walked off the mound in Memphis on that steamy Saturday night in July, his final comeback attempt felt like it was over, and it was.

Still, you can count on Carpenter to be good for at least one more surprise. That depends, of course, on what he does next.

Staying with the Cardinals in some capacity would not be a surprise. General manager John Mozeliak said Wednesday he’s “hopeful Carp will give serious consideration to joining the organization” and the two plan to meet in early January.
The surprise would come in whatever position Carpenter might take.

Well, unless, he takes on one of those undefined but important-sounding roles such as “special assistant to the general manager.” But when I ran that possibility past Mozeliak late in the season, he laughed it off, though perhaps that was because he didn’t want to get ahead of himself.

If not a special assistant, then what? Given his knowledge, his standing in the game and his professional approach, he likely could master any challenge he wanted. But what would he want to take on?

Pitching coach is out. That’s a difficult, time-consuming job and besides, Derek Lilliquist is doing quite well in that role.

Actually, any coaching position in the majors or minors figures to take more time than Carpenter would want to give in his first year of retirement.

Postgame analyst on FOX Sports Midwest’s telecasts would not seem to rate high on Carpenter’s list, either. Of course, I would have said the same about Jim Edmonds this time last year, but he found himself in front of the camera many times in 2013. Still, can you picture Carpenter trying to be pleasant during a losing streak? His glare might break the camera.

Minor league roving instructor worked for Mike Matheny and would be another possibility, though it likely would require traveling more than Carpenter would want.

Scout? Too much travel, too much busy work, too much of a learning curve.

How about vice president of motivation? Carpenter made a huge impact as clubhouse confidant and cheerleader last season, especially late, but that would be difficult to pull off again. First, it would not be so spontaneous. Also, he was able to wear a uniform in the dugout last season because he was on the disabled list. When you retire, you’re not on the roster. He’d actually be part of management.

My suggestion: Hire Chris Carpenter to be Chris Carpenter and let him figure out something. Just having him on the payroll should be a must for the Cardinals.

“Everybody can go look up the statistics and accomplishments,” Matheny said. “How this guy went about his business to impact others sets him aside. That sets him apart as somebody different and special. What a pro.”

Or as Mozeliak put it, “He really created a culture of higher expectations for this organization. For him to be a part of (this club) was something that made us all better.”

And that he would continue to do, no matter what his job was called.

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