Carpenter throws from mound for first time
ST. LOUIS — Nearly three months to the day since he was shut down in spring training due to weakness in his right shoulder, Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter climbed back on a mound and threw for the first time Wednesday.
Carpenter threw 26 fastballs at about 85 percent velocity in the Cardinals bullpen and reported no problems afterwards. The 37-year-old is recovering from a nerve condition that caused discomfort and weakness in his pitching shoulder in March.
"It felt good," Carpenter said. "It was just fun to get back out there and start moving in the right direction. Hopefully we can continue to progress the way it's been progressing and see what happens.
"I feel strong. I feel good. The ball is coming out fine. Now it's just continue to progress slowly but surely and hope there is nothing that gets affected afterwards."
Carpenter likened his status to that of his first throw in the winter. He typically throws three to four light bullpen sessions every other day before arriving at spring training in February, and plans to do the same now.
If all goes well with the current every-other-day schedule the next week, Carpenter could progress to more aggressive bullpen sessions and simulated games against hitters. He would eventually likely need a number of rehab starts before rejoining the rotation.
"It was a nice move in the right direction," Carpenter said. "We're going to do this a few times and see what happens. We're treating it like a lead-up to spring training here and typically that's every other day for three or four times off the mound and start putting a little more effort and stuff into the pitches, breaking balls and stuff like that and then move from there. We'll do this a few times and then update it after that what the next move will be."
Carpenter threw a career-high 273 1/3 innings last year between the regular season and playoffs. He went 11-9 with a 3.45 ERA in 34 regular season starts and 4-0 with a 3.25 ERA in six postseason starts. He made three starts in the World Series, including Game 7 on just three days rest.
Wednesday's starter Lance Lynn has done a remarkable job filling in for Carpenter in the rotation. He entered the start with a 9-2 record and a 2.66 ERA in 12 starts since joining the rotation during spring training.
Lefty Jaime Garcia is currently on the disabled list with a strained left shoulder, making a possible return for Carpenter a big deal for the defending champions.
"Any time you move forward that's an exciting thing but you also want to hold back a little bit because you don't want to get too carried away on how you're feeling and what you're doing," Carpenter said. "It is what it is. It's 26 pitches, four-seam fastballs on both sides of the plate, at 85 percent. … Right now I feel great."
Asked about a potential timetable for a return to the rotation, Carpenter said, "I'm not going to go there. I don't know. We'll see what happens. Let's get through this next week of every other day and getting on the mound and putting a little effort into it and then we'll go from there."