ST. LOUIS -- Chris Carpenter knows that it's at least possible that he's in his last year as a St. Louis Cardinal. He hopes that's not the case. But for a pitcher who has spent the past eight years or so knowing that nothing is guaranteed, that's not such an enormous worry.
Carpenter is signed through 2011, and the Cardinals hold a club option for 2012 worth $15 million. If St. Louis is able to reach agreement on a new deal with slugger Albert Pujols, it could become much tougher for the team to fit that sum within its payroll. And if media and fans can put two and two together, you know that Carpenter has done the same.
"It has been brought up," Carpenter said on Saturday at the Cards' annual Winter Warm-Up fan festival. "It has been talked about -- I'm not going to lie about it -- inside of my family. But I have no concerns. I have no extra pressure. That stuff, it doesn't bother me. My only goal this year is to be healthy, to be consistent every fifth day every time I get the ball, and do the best I can."
A lengthy injury history has caused Carpenter to never take his next start for granted, never mind his next season. So while he doesn't relish the thought of his time in St. Louis coming to an end, he's prepared to cope if it happens.
"If they want to keep me, they can keep me," he said. "If they don't, I guess I'll have to find another place to play. I don't want to, but that's the way this business is. It's the way it works. Like I said, there's no question it's been talked about. And we're OK with it."