Carp tests arm as he holds out hope of returning

Carp tests arm as he holds out hope of returning

SAN DIEGO -- Cardinals right-hander Chris Carpenter threw 70 pitches in a simulated game before Monday's game at Petco Park. It was another step in the right direction for the former Cy Young winner, who underwent thoracic outlet surgery in July.

"Everything's good," Carpenter said. "My stuff today was sharp, my cutter was sharp, I threw my breaking ball for strikes, my fastball on both sides of the plate, which was good."

Carpenter and the Cardinals have tried to temper any hype surrounding a potential late-season return, though the 37-year-old is scheduled for one more simulated game, a 90-pitch outing set for Saturday, which would likely be his last before a potential start.

According to both Carpenter and his manager, Mike Matheny, the stuff he showed in the simulated game was good enough to take into a real start. But Matheny has not gone so far as to project a return date yet.

The concern is obviously that Carpenter would rush back, re-injure himself and diminish his availability for the 2013 season, which was, after all, the expected return date all along. Still, Carpenter's effort Monday seems a reason for optimism.

"It was a very good outing today. Had more life on the ball, crisp movement, and he held it all the way through, right until his last pitch, the same stuff," Matheny said. "So it was all very encouraging."