Carp earns rave reviews after simulated game

Carp earns rave reviews after simulated game

Carp earns rave reviews after simulated game
ST. LOUIS -- More than a dozen teammates, as well as several staff members and team personnel, gathered with anticipation behind the batting cage well before the Cardinals' full batting practice was set to begin on Tuesday. They weren't there to watch hitters. Rather, it was right-hander Chris Carpenter commanding all the attention.

Carpenter's journey toward a late-season return to the rotation hit another checkpoint on Tuesday, as he threw approximately 50 pitches during three simulated "innings." Carpenter, who is recovering from July thoracic outlet surgery, earned glowing reviews of the session afterward.

"He doesn't look like he's hurting at all," said Bryan Anderson, who caught Carpenter. "He looked good. He looked just like it was old Carp."

"The ball was jumping out of his hand," manager Mike Matheny added. "It's really in his finish. He has sink, he has cut, which he wasn't really able to do before."

Three hitters -- Adron Chambers, Ryan Jackson and Pete Kozma -- stepped in to help Carpenter simulate at-bats. In all, Carpenter faced Chambers five times, Jackson four times and Kozma three times.

"The stuff that he threw today was sharp," Kozma said. "There was a little sink to it. His fastball looked like he had a little something on it. His breaking ball looked good."

Carpenter, too, was pleased.

"I was happy with it," he said. "It definitely was better than the last time, too, which is a good thing. I threw more pitches, felt like the ball was down better this time."

While the Cardinals are leery of publicizing Carpenter's tentative schedule over the next few weeks, this much is known: Carpenter will throw a bullpen session on Friday and then have another simulated outing in San Diego on Monday. He'll likely stretch his arm out to about 60-65 pitches in that effort.

From there, Carpenter is expected to stay on a five-day rotation, which would have him lined up to throw about 75-80 pitches in a simulated game on Sept. 15. The Cardinals, who have said they would like to have Carpenter ready to throw 90 pitches before he comes off the disabled list, could then activate Carpenter the following week.

If all stays on schedule, Carpenter could make as many as three regular-season starts for St. Louis.

"As long as I continue to progress and feel good, I want to be able to pitch," said Carpenter, who has not pitched this season. "I also need to make sure I'm good enough to help this ballclub. We've got some quality guys. I've got to get my stuff right, get my command right, get my pitch limit up to where I can give us a positive effort."

As for the crowd that gathered around to watch him on Tuesday?

"I think it's more just them excited to see me go back out there and throw," Carpenter said. "It just shows the kind of guys we have on this club. They want to come out and kind of go on this journey with me and see where we're at, which is neat."