JUPITER, Fla. -- Apparently, when Chris Carpenter and Mark Mulder say they're "progressing nicely," they mean it.
Dr. George Paletta, the Cardinals' head team physician, professed optimism regarding both rehabbing hurlers on Wednesday, saying that each remains on his previously expected time frame in recovery from surgery.
According to Paletta, Mulder is expected to be able to pitch in game conditions at roughly the turn of the month -- whether it be in extended Spring Training games or in Minor League contests. That should keep Mulder on track to make a Major League game appearance sometime in May, a forecast that coincides with previous estimates.
"If he continues to progress the way he has, which is a fairly straight line and a very steady forward progression, by the time we break camp, [his status] should be a baseball decision [as opposed to a medical decision]," Paletta said.
"That should be the point at which he can begin game-level intensity pitching," he added. "So then [manager] Tony [La Russa] and [pitching coach Dave Duncan] will have to make a decision. Does he stay in extended, make a couple of game appearances increasing his pitch count here in extended? Is he really ready to go out on a formal rehab assignment?"
Mulder underwent shoulder surgery in September of last year. He's been throwing off a mound throughout spring, slowly building strength, sharpness and stamina.
Paletta said that Carpenter will begin throwing bullpen sessions next week, a significant step forward as he comes back from last July's Tommy John elbow-reconstruction elbow surgery.
"That process of the return to throwing from the mound is typically somewhere on the order of 2 1/2 to three months," Paletta said. "That's the point at which it becomes a baseball decision. So if you look at three months from now, the plan [is that] by the first of June or so, he's ready to do a similar thing to what we're talking about with Mulder. They decide where he goes, what he does, what he has to do to get his pitch counts up."
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.