ST. LOUIS -- For the first time during his shoulder rehab, Chris Carpenter faced live batters Monday.
Carpenter threw about 40 total pitches from the mound, and about half were to Shane Robinson and Matt Adams. Carpenter hadn't yet met with trainers to discuss the next step in his rehab, but he said afterward that he felt good during the session.
"This is 3 o'clock in the afternoon to a bunch of guys that aren't even warmed up yet, so this isn't by any means at game speed and game ready," Carpenter said. "But you still get that reaction to see if they're a little late on your fastball, or if you're getting the ball by them or the sharpness of your stuff. I got some swings and misses on my breaking ball today, but you know, we still got a long ways to go."
Carpenter was initially supposed to face batters last Tuesday, but he slowed down his throwing program after experiencing fatigue when throwing an earlier bullpen. He said Monday that this was the first time he's felt good after three consecutive sessions -- the last two bullpens, and today against batters.
"Before we were throwing a couple good ones and having a couple bad ones, so this is the first time where I've had three in a row go well and I've been able to get up there consistently three times in a row," Carpenter said. "My stuff was OK today, but it certainly needs to get better."
Robinson, who faced pitches from Carpenter around this time last year when he was working his way back from nerve-related shoulder issues, said Carpenter's performance today was "night and day" better than at this point last season.
"It wasn't pinpoint accuracy with everything, but he had an idea with what he was doing with every pitch," Robinson said. "He was just off on a couple pitches, fine-tuning it. But he looked good. He looked like had a lot of good movement."
Though at one point, it appeared this injury might signal an end to Carpenter's career, he has defied expectations, and Monday's session was another positive step for the 38-year-old right-hander.
"I wasn't ever going to give up. I never said that I was not going to try," Carpenter said. "Fortunately, my body has recovered and my arm has recovered, so we're going to go out and continue to do it and see what happens."
Chad Thornburg is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less