When Chris Carpenter said that he would never retire in February, many fans doubted him. Forget the fact that he is knocking on 40’s door, Carp threw over 75 pitches during bullpen session at Busch Stadium this past week. His shoulder and neck seem to have recovered well since he created the fifth starter race this spring.
St. Louis’ giant right-hander sports a different look with his curly hair popping out of his cap, but baseball knows that his same pitbull attitude will be intimidating batters sometime soon, which is comforting for the Cardinals Nation.
In an interview during a recent game on Fox Sports Midwest, General Manager John Mozeliak was comfortable discussing the timeline for Carp’s rehab stint. The Cards boss stressed the fact that there was no rush, which makes sense. This is shocking considering that only a few months ago various critics and fans alike speculated as to whether he would ever take the mound again.
First, lets back up to the extremely revealing press conference that Chris Carpenter gave to the media in February. The verdict that most people took away from the emotional day in mid February was “highly unlikely”. Pitching in 2013 looked grim for the fan favorite. However, it is vital to recall, there was a point when Carpenter, who appeared irked by the retirement question, proclaimed that he would “never retire.”
Next, lets go back even further, to 2012. Carpenter only pitched 17 innings. He had the nerve issue in his neck and a rusty shoulder, which kept him out of the season and gave lots of other hurlers the chance to start games. But, the former hockey player emerged with all of his teeth at the end of last season to help push the Birdinals into the playoffs. No one was shocked, but some skeptics, like myself, wondered what the effect would be for the rest of his contract (2013).
Returning to today, when former Cardinals ace Carpenter has had no issues after throwing fastballs and breaking balls a couple of days ago. He resembles the T-1000 that chases John Connor throughout LA in a pre-apocalyptic world. You think he is gone, then he comes back, even when his body has been beat up.
With the St. Louis starting rotation leading the league with a 2.89 ERA, there is no chatter of fiddling with that group. Nevertheless, the bullpen appears to be the upcoming home for Carp assuming he passes all of the upcoming tests.
While seeing only one lefty in the bullpen for too much longer isn’t what Mozeliak sees in his crystal ball, he must like the idea of the ever-experienced, former Cy-Young candidate, wearing 29 on his back helping keep the group of young arms strong. Chris Carpenter is wise like Gandalf, and he knows that this may be his final chance to be part of another historic season with the birds on the bat.