Chris Carpenter and the St. Louis Cardinals breathed a collective sigh of relief after the former Cy Young Award winner was diagnosed with a bulging cervical disc.
The team feared the stiffness in the righty's neck that put him out of several workouts over the past week may have proven to be a career-threatening nerve issue, a recurring problem in his medical history.
So Saturday's diagnosis by doctors in Florida and St. Louis, after Carpenter ran a series of tests, was welcomed, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Sunday.
"When you're thinking of what could have been some really bad [things], we can take care of this and move on," Carpenter said.
General manager John Mozeliak said Carpenter's return to a throwing program would be decided over the next few days. "Obviously, he's taken steps in the right direction, and that's good," Mozeliak said.
The former Cy Young Award winner missed a pitching session earlier in the week for the same issue.
Carpenter, who turns 37 next month, saw his 2004 season ended prematurely by a nerve problem.
After missing almost all of the 2007 and 2008 seasons because of Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow, he experienced more nerve trouble.
Carpenter investigated surgery options to tackle the condition but decided to avoid going under the knife.
The three-time All-Star, who signed a two-year contract extension with St. Louis last September, notched wins for the Cardinals in Games 1 and 7 of the 2011 World Series.
The veteran hurler has 1,685 strikeouts and a 3.76 ERA through 14 seasons with the Blue Jays and Cardinals.