WASHINGTON -- Cardinals right-hander Chris Carpenter knows better than most what Stephen Strasburg is going through. Not that anyone knows exactly what it's like to be the Nationals phenom right now, but Carpenter has a better idea than many people do.
Carpenter was a heavily hyped pitching prospect, though nowhere near the way Strasburg is. Carpenter had elbow surgery early in his career, as well as major shoulder surgery and finally Tommy John surgery in 2007. So it made sense that Strasburg sought out Carpenter on Friday, the day after he learned he would likely need Tommy John surgery. Carpenter was happy to provide some guidance, and in the process came away impressed with the youngster.
"He came up with a lot of pressure, a lot of expectations, huge hype and he was living up to it," Carpenter said. "And this shows how quick it can go. Hopefully he realizes to enjoy it, don't take anything for granted, because as fast as it can come is as fast as it can go.
"But he'll be fine. This surgery, not everybody, but most everybody comes back from it. He's a young kid. He seems like he's got a great head on his shoulders. He's got to, to be able to handle the stuff that he's been handling so far throughout his short career. If he works hard, he'll be fine."
Carpenter said his main point of emphasis to Strasburg is that the operation is not a career death sentence, and that if Strasburg works hard and trusts the people helping him, he'll come out of it all just fine.
But he also sympathizes, knowing what a scare it can be to face a year of rehab.
"Things like this happen," Carpenter said. "With everything that's been put on this kid, ultimately he's a human being and he's a kid that wants to play baseball. So no matter how much everybody around him sees him as this super-whatever, super guy, he's still a 22-year-old kid that has a couple months in the big leagues, and all he wants to do is play. That's tough. It hits you hard because you know you're not going to do anything for a year."