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Hurlers progressing toward returns

Hurlers progressing toward returns

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ST. LOUIS -- Chris Carpenter is taking one last chance to come visit his family and teammates this week. Starting in six days, he'll ratchet up the work and won't be able to leave Florida for a while.

And Carpernter's not the only rehabbing Cardinals pitcher who is likely to see an increase in activity in the coming days. Carpenter will throw to hitters in Florida on Monday, Russ Springer hopes to come off the disabled list on Sunday and Tyler Johnson has a May 7 target for throwing off a mound.

Carpenter, who has been rehabbing from Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery at the Cardinals' complex in Florida, is in St. Louis for the club's current homestand. He'll throw bullpen sessions on Wednesday and Friday, then head south again when the team goes to Milwaukee after Sunday's home game. On Monday, he expects to throw to hitters for the first time in a live batting-practice session at the Roger Dean Stadium complex.

"We're starting to get to more effort," Carpenter said. "I started throwing breaking balls last week, so that's another level that we're getting to. We've still got a ways to go, but so far, so good. The harder I start throwing and the more effort I start putting into these breaking balls will give us a sign of what's going on."

Once Carpenter begins throwing to hitters, it will still be a while before he begins Minor League rehabilitation games. Even so, he continues to progress well, and nothing has happened to dampen the hope that he could join the team sometime around the All-Star break.

Springer, meanwhile, believes he'll keep his DL time to the minimum 15 days. Recovering from nerve irritation in his right elbow, Springer expects to throw off a mound on Thursday and believes he could be back with the Cardinals on Sunday.

"I've got normal hand strength and feeling in my hand," Springer said. "That's what I was missing before. I didn't pick up a ball for seven days. They told me not to do arm weights, not do anything, for seven days -- other than some cardio stuff. So I think we're on pace."

Johnson, who came down with shoulder trouble early in Spring Training, said Tuesday that he feels very good and is moving along in his throwing sessions. It's still three weeks before he takes the mound, but simply having a date is encouraging for the lefty.

"When I'm playing catch, the ball definitely is coming out good," Johnson said. "And I don't feel like I'm trying to throw it as hard as I can to be able to throw decent. I feel really good. Best I've felt in a long time."

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

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