ST. LOUIS -- Matt Carpenter left Busch Stadium on Saturday unconcerned that the side tightness that prompted his exit in the ninth inning would affect his ability to play in the series finale. A day later, he passed the requisite tests to prove it.
Carpenter received treatment and then clearance on Sunday to return to the Cardinals' lineup, where he continues to fit as the team's leadoff hitter. He entered the day leading the league in runs scored with 21.
"I felt good, so I'm back in there," Carpenter said. "Obviously, I felt something [on Saturday], and it was an awkward swing. I was stretching the rest of the game, but I didn't think it was anything serious. I felt pretty good about it."
Carpenter first felt the tweak during a swing he took in his seventh-inning at-bat on Saturday. It was after manager Mike Matheny then noticed Carpenter trying to stretch his side in the field and while on the on-deck circle in the ninth that he summoned the infielder over to ask if something was wrong.
With only a few seconds to decide whether to let Carpenter hit, Matheny opted to call him back to the dugout.
"I can't risk losing a guy for two weeks if there's the chance we can pull him out for one at-bat," Matheny said. "It hurt him yesterday more than anything that he felt like he let his teammates down and couldn't answer the bell late in the game. And I know that about him. We need him to let us in on what's going on. We'll try to do the right thing, but it's a trust that has to be built up between us."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.