If Cardinals veteran ace Chris Carpenter is able to make the return from the brink of retirement to contribute this season, it won’t be just the health of his shoulder that improved.
Carpenter described Sunday how the Cardinals have taken a total-body approach to his recovery that focuses not only on his shoulder, which has been dogged by nerve trouble for several years, but also the back and hip injuries that could have contributed to the strain on the shoulder. Carpenter received a cortisone injection in his right hip within the past couple of weeks that alleviated pain and accelerated his sudden return to the mound.
“Is it a coincidence that last spring I hurt my back and I had problems, and that this year leading into spring I hurt my back and I had problems?” Carpenter said. “There is definitely a weakness in my right hip and lower back on that side, and we’re really trying to concentrate on it.
“That’s the way we’re going about it right now. Just get stronger.”
Carpenter is scheduled to throw off the mound again this afternoon, and the club hopes to have a clear sense of his recovery by the end of this home stand. In February, the club and Carpenter announced that he did not expect to pitch this season because of the recurrence of nerve trouble in his right shoulder that left the arm weak and, at times, numb.
In the past few weeks, Carpenter’s shoulder has felt strong enough for him to push through a throwing program and ignite the possibility he’ll pitch this season. A focus of his recovery has been improving the health of his lower back and hip in case it’s the weaknesses there that have altered his mechanics. Any weakness in what’s called the “kinetic chain” could cause an increased strain elsewhere in the body – such as the shoulder. Carpenter has felt strong through his mechanics, and he said that the alleviation of pain in the hip has made his delivery more comfortable.
“That’s why I’m working as much as I can off the mound,” Carpenter said. “I’ve got to continue staying strong and working on staying stable as we take all of the stress and other stuff off of my shoulder. … I’ve been dealing with this (shoulder) issue for a long time and this is how we’re going about it right now to see if we can help.”
WESTbrook goes on dl
Cardinals sinkerballer Jake Westbrook will miss at least his next two starts because of inflammation in his right elbow, and that necessitated a move to place him on the 15-day disabled list. The Cardinals and the pitcher stressed that the irritation was not significant concern, but it was enough of an issue that Westbrook received an anti-inflammatory shot Friday, and the team put him on the DL on Sunday.
“It’s really not that big of a deal. We didn’t want to push it,” general manager John Mozeliak insisted. “Didn’t want it to become a big problem.”
Said Westbrook: “I’m not super-alarmed by it.”
Westbrook said the discomfort in his elbow after his start Wednesday was a “little stronger” than usual, and it did inhibit his ability to extend his arm when pitching. When the irritation didn’t dissipate after a day, the Cardinals gave the elbow an ultrasound scan Friday and uncovered the inflammation.
To take his scheduled start Tuesday, the Cardinals opted not to upset the bullpen and use Seth Maness or Carlos Martinez. Lefty John Gast will come from Class AAA Memphis for the start. Gast is 3-1 with a 1.16 ERA in seven starts (38 2/3 innings) for the Redbirds. To make room on the 40-man roster for Gast, the Cardinals placed Jason Motte on the 60-day DL.
Cardinals prospect Oscar Taveras left Sunday’s Class AAA Memphis game after injuring his right ankle sliding into second. X-rays taken of the joint did not reveal a fracture, and the outfielder is considered day to day with a mild sprain, a team official confirmed. … Tonight’s game has been moved up to a 6:05 p.m. to accommodate a national broadcast on ESPN. … In his first four appearances for Class AAA Memphis, reliever Mitchell Boggs has yet to allow a run and struck out three in four innings of work. … Matheny, who wore pink cleats as part of baseball’s breast cancer awareness initiative on Mother’s Day, said one of the people who will receive a pink No. 22 Matheny jersey from Saturday’s giveaway is his maternal grandmother, Luella Keefer, a six-time cancer survivor. … Four Cardinals – Daniel Descalso, Ty Wigginton, Jon Jay and Shane Robinson – used officially licensed pink bats.