JUPITER, Fla. -- Despite lobbying efforts by teammates and manager Mike Matheny, Cardinals right-hander Chris Carpenter said on Monday that he does not intend to make an appearance at the team's Spring Training facility.
Carpenter cited several factors in his decision to stay away, including his fear that he could become a distraction among his teammates who are preparing for the season. He also noted that by staying in St. Louis, he can keep the needed narrow focus on getting his arm healthy.
"Right now, in my mind, I'm not ready to do that," Carpenter said of reporting to Jupiter, Fla. "I'm not ready not to mentor kids. I always want to be a part of this organization, and hopefully when it's all said and done I will have the opportunity to come back and be a part of it. … But in my mind right now, I need to figure out what's going on because mentally, it's tough. That's all I can say."
Carpenter had to halt his throwing program on Feb. 1 after the discomfort and aching nerve sensation that hindered him in 2012 returned. Since then, Matheny said he has been in contact with Carpenter and has encouraged the 37-year-old right-hander to consider joining the Cardinals in camp.
"I keep hounding on him about it. We just want to see him," Matheny said on Monday, the report date for Cardinals pitchers and catchers. "He's a guy who, every time he's around, he brings value. I'd love to have him here. But where he is right now, it's not an easy situation to know how to handle. He needs to do the right thing, which is first, invest in himself and his family. I think [his wife] Alyson and the kids will let him know when it's time."
Though Carpenter missed much of the 2012 season, he did spend a considerable amount of time around the clubhouse. He was in Jupiter, Fla., for most of Spring Training and was around for home series during the regular season. In August, he resumed traveling with the team on the road.
Whether or not Carpenter will return as a regular clubhouse presence once the regular season begins is not yet known. Among the only plans he has thus far is to figure out his medical situation and go on spring break vacation with his children.
"It's definitely disappointing to have somebody who has been such a huge part of this team not be able to participate," starter Jake Westbrook said. "It was a little bit of a kick in the gut, and he's definitely going to be missed. Not just because of the type of pitcher he is, but just the kind of teammate he is and what he brings to this organization. It's definitely a loss."