ST. LOUIS -- Injured Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter threw off a mound on Wednesday for the first time in his recovery from nerve irritation in his right shoulder. Carpenter said he threw 26 pitches -- all fastballs -- at about 85-percent effort.
"It was just fun to get back up there and start moving in the right direction," Carpenter said. "Hopefully we can continue to progress the way it's been progressing and see what happens."
Carpenter had not been on a mound since March 3, when he threw a live batting-practice session during Spring Training. He complained of neck stiffness afterward, which prompted additional doctor visits to determine the issue. He didn't resume throwing until recently, when he began to play light catch and long toss.
"The progress is good, so every time you move forward, it's an exciting thing," Carpenter said. "But you also want to hold back a little, just because you don't want to get too carried away on how you're feeling and what you're doing."
Carpenter and Cardinals manager Mike Matheny agreed there is no set timetable for either Carpenter's return date or the next step in his recovery. Carpenter said he's currently approaching his rehab similar to the way in which he builds up his arm prior to the start of Spring Training.
That includes throwing off the mound every other day, while slowly increasing his amount of effort, number of pitches and types of pitches thrown.
Asked if the Spring-Training timeline is likely to fit this mid-summer rehab program, Carpenter stressed that he hasn't thought that far into his recovery.
"I feel strong. I feel good," Carpenter said. "The ball's coming out fine. Now, we just need to progress slowly but surely, and hopefully there is nothing that gets affected afterward."
Carpenter said he'll see how he fares this week as he continues his side work, and he will determine his next step from there.
"We've been getting positive [reports] from all those workouts and every step that he's taken. That's always positive," Matheny said. "But again, trying not to put too much pressure on him -- that one thing means anything on a timeline. We just want him to continue to get better and get him back as quick as we can."