Notes: Carpenter continues to improve

Notes: Carpenter improving

MILWAUKEE -- In the midst of dark days for the Cardinals, a little light crept through the roof at Miller Park on Monday.

Ace Chris Carpenter reported that his right elbow is feeling good following a bullpen session Saturday. He'll throw a simulated game Tuesday, and if that goes well, the club may get serious about reinserting the 2005 Cy Young winner into its rotation. Carpenter hasn't pitched since Opening Day due to bone spurs that caused swelling and discomfort in his throwing elbow.

"There was no reaction," Carpenter said Monday. "I threw 60-some pitches the other day in the 'pen, and it feels good. It feels good today like it did yesterday, so I'm looking forward to playing catch today and having my side tomorrow."

Carpenter threw a bullpen session shortly after he first sustained the injury, and he felt fine as he was throwing. The next day, however, the condition recurred, and he shut it down entirely for two weeks. For him still to be feeling good two days after an extensive throw is very good news for St. Louis.

"He feels great," said manager Tony La Russa. "I think it's [Tuesday] he's going to do a workout against hitters, which is all to the good. Hopefully he keeps passing those tests, and if he does, I'm not going to say when, so don't ask, but we've got a date penciled in where he would return to the rotation. So we'll keep our fingers crossed."

The Cardinals rotation is set through Friday, with Saturday open. Randy Keisler, who had been taking Carpenter's starts, was sent to the Minors following his last outing.

Dove recalled: To take the roster spot of the late Josh Hancock, the Cardinals recalled right-hander Dennis Dove from Triple-A Memphis. Dove's arrival is another testament to the value of Spring Training. Like fellow recent callup Kelvin Jimenez, Dove was one of the most pleasant surprises of Spring Training.

The hard-throwing 25-year-old had a 3.00 ERA in nine games at Memphis covering 12 innings. He had struck out seven and walked six. Over his last four outings, though, Dove pitched 5 2/3 shutout innings, allowing three hits and two walks with five strikeouts.

"He's on the roster, and it could be a short-term thing if Chris [Carpenter] does come back," La Russa said. "He did make a good impression [in the spring], so it's a great opportunity for him to get his feet wet in the big leagues."

La Russa acknowledged that it's a unique challenge for a player to be called up in response to a death. But he pointed out that it's not unusual for "the call" to occur following some sort of misfortune.

"I mentioned it to him," La Russa said. "That's out of his control. It's a dramatic example, but if somebody gets hurt and you get called up, all you can do is just take the assignment and do the best you can with it."

In typical La Russa fashion, the manager put his new charge right to work. Dove was up to the task, pitching a scoreless seventh with one hit and one strikeout.

Spiezio scratched: Scott Spiezio was removed from the lineup at the last minute on Monday. He was initially written in as the right fielder, but Skip Schumaker took his place, collecting three hits.

Spiezio said he could have played, but arriving at the park to memories of Hancock was a little overwhelming. La Russa elected not to play the utility man.

"I was ready to go," Spiezio said. "But sometimes you think you're pretty tough and all of a sudden, something catches you the wrong way. You don't know when it's going to come. Sometimes you're mad. Sometimes you're sad."

This date in Cardinals history: On April 29, 2005, former teammates met in Atlanta. The Cardinals sent Mark Mulder to the mound against Tim Hudson, in the first season removed from when both were Oakland A's. The pitching matchup was overshadowed, though, in a 6-5 Cards win. Albert Pujols homered as part of an 11-hit St. Louis attack at Turner Field.

Baby 'Birds: Rick Ankiel doubled, tripled and drove in four runs for Memphis in an 8-5 win over Iowa on Sunday. Chris Narveson gave up five runs in six innings but picked up the win. Ryan Ludwick extended his hitting streak to 13 games and scored for the 11th straight game. ... Chris Lambert was ejected after four innings for hitting a batter following a home run, but nonetheless pitched very well in Double-A Springfield's 4-2 win over Tulsa. Lambert allowed a run on two hits, striking out six and walking two. Bryan Anderson doubled twice and Jon Jay and Colby Rasmus each homered. Chris Perez recorded his fourth save with a perfect ninth. Perez has gone six appearances without allowing a base hit. ... A.J. Van Slyke hit a two-run, walk-off home run to send Class A Palm Beach to a 5-3 win over Daytona. ... Jaime Landin went 3-for-4 with a home run to help Class A Quad Cities beat Burlington, 6-2.

The player of the day is Quad Cities starter Elvis Hernandez, who made the most of his pitch count. Working in QC's "tandem" starter system, he still made it five innings on the strength of an overwhelming performance. Hernandez allowed one hit and no walks, striking out four over five shutout frames. Hernandez, who turned 22 on Friday, was signed by the Cardinals as a non-drafted free agent in March of 2005.

Coming up: The Cardinals will send Braden Looper to the mound on Tuesday night for the second game of their series with Milwaukee. Ben Sheets starts for Milwaukee -- in theory a tough assignment, but the Redbirds have hit Sheets very well.

Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.