DETROIT -- Chris Carpenter threw his fourth bullpen session on Wednesday and is expected to add the challenge of facing hitters the next time he gets on the mound.
Assuming Carpenter doesn't feel any day-after pain from his latest work, the right-hander will throw batting practice during the team's weekend series in Kansas City. Carpenter, who was shut down this spring due to nerve irritation in his right shoulder, has had not setbacks since he resumed throwing off a mound last week.
"The last few bullpens have been full-effort with all my pitches, making sure that I'm doing all the things I need to do to progress to that next step," Carpenter said. "I feel good. I really do. My shoulder feels good. My body feels good. The effort level has been there, too."
Carpenter has equated this return-to-pitch program as the normal build-up process pitchers go through during Spring Training. Pitchers usually advance to hitters during the second week of camp. Game appearances typically follow, though the Cardinals have not set a definitive schedule on when Carpenter may be cleared to begin a Minor League rehab assignment.
"It's been basically what I've expected to deal with after not throwing for the last 2 1/2 months," Carpenter said. "I feel good, and I'm looking forward to the next step."
Aside from attending the team's season opener in Miami, Carpenter had not traveled with the club this season. That changed this week, and the decision to have Carpenter travel allows both manager Mike Matheny and pitching coach Derek Lilliquist to observe Carpenter's progress.
"He looks good. He looks sharp," Matheny said after watching Carpenter on Wednesday. "[We're] excited, but also not putting that time frame when he can or cannot take his next step. We're just seeing how he responds every day."