Carpenter gets Opening Day assignment

Carpenter gets Opening Day assignment

JUPITER, Fla. -- Kyle McClellan's bullpen assignment was only the second-worst-kept secret in Cardinals Spring Training. The worst-kept was also officially unveiled on Monday. Chris Carpenter, who has been on track to start Opening Day since before Grapefruit League games started, was formally confirmed as the Cards' starter for April 5 in Cincinnati.

He'll be followed by Adam Wainwright, Brad Penny and Kyle Lohse in the Cardinals' first four games. The only question for the first week of games is when fifth-starter-elect Jaime Garcia will start. The fifth member of the rotation could either pitch on Saturday, April 10 or Sunday, April 11 in Milwaukee, with Carpenter making his second start the other day.

Wainwright, the other prime candidate for Opening Day honors, will get the next-best thing. Wainwright will start the Cardinals' home opener, on April 12 against the Astros. It's a convenient coincidence that each of the Redbirds' two aces can get one of the two plum assignments.

"That's the way it's mapped out," manager Tony La Russa said. "It's not our first rodeo. Maybe our last, but it's not our first."

This will be Carpenter's fifth career Opening Day start, and his fourth with the Cardinals. His last one was memorable for the wrong reasons. Carpenter started the 2007 opener, and it was his only appearance all season. He came down with elbow troubles shortly thereafter, and ultimately required Tommy John surgery.

Wainwright was awarded the assignment in 2008, though the game was rained out before it became official, so technically Lohse started the first game of the season, and Wainwright started the lid-lifter last year.

Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.