Carpenter's return hits a setbackLINK
By Joe Strauss
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Former Cy Young Award winner Chris Carpenter was examined in St. Louis on Friday after experiencing renewed discomfort in his surgically repaired right elbow and is likely to seek a second opinion regarding his condition soon.
Carpenter returned to St. Louis to be seen by team medical supervisor Dr. George Paletta after becoming increasingly concerned about what he was feeling following a Wednesday side session at the club's minor-league complex in Jupiter, Fla.
"I'm concerned," general manager John Mozeliak said during Friday's series opener against the Philadelphia Phillies. "If we weren't concerned he would have been in Florida and would have thrown today. He called and told me he was concerned."
The club did not release results of Friday's exam, which included an MRI, but the setback apparently is not believed to involve damage to the ligament transplanted near Carpenter's right elbow last July 24.
Mozeliak underscored that the club believes the issue is not "structural" but did not offer further details, pending the second opinion. He declined to comment on whether Carpenter's condition is believed to be nerve-related.
Carpenter did not come to Busch Stadium on Friday but spoke to Mozeliak by phone. Mozeliak summed up Carpenter's attitude as "frustrated."
Though the club refused to wave off the possibility of Carpenter becoming available this season, the setback clearly alters a timetable for his return.
The Cardinals predicated based much of their hope for a second-half push on Carpenter returning to the rotation by early August.
Sidelined last season after an opening day start, Carpenter twice unsuccessfully tried to rehabilitate with rest before fraying of the ligament was found after two rehab outings at Class A Palm Beach. Surgery was then prescribed.
Carpenter appeared on a fast track this spring when he threw impressively from a mound less than eight months after surgery. Though starting pitchers typically take 2-3 months longer to recover than relievers, the Cardinals and Carpenter believed he could make it back near the anniversary of his surgery.
"Could 'Carp' still pitch for us sometime this year? We think so," Mozeliak said. "But will he pitch sometime around the All-Star break like we were hoping? That's not likely."
The club backed Carpenter off his throwing program within the last two weeks because of discomfort. Carpenter resumed throwing when the discomfort eased.
Carpenter's setback occurs as fellow starters Matt Clement and Mark Mulder continue their rehabilitations. Both are scheduled to pitch today in a doubleheader for Class AA Springfield. Clement, signed to an incentive-laden contract in January, has not pitched in a major-league game since June 14, 2006. He later underwent major shoulder surgery. Mulder has undergone two shoulder operations and signed a two-year, $13 million contract with the club since gaining his last victory on June 15, 2006.