PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. • Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak, assistant general manager Michael Girsch and recently retired star Chris Carpenter rode together to Port St. Lucie on Wednesday from Jupiter, the Cardinals’ spring training base.
The new guy had to drive. That would be Carpenter.
“They told me that it was because I had the biggest car,” said Carpenter, smiling. “I’m not sure I believe that.
“Then I bought gas before we left. But I pushed ‘no receipt.’
Carpenter doesn’t want to be reimbursed for anything. He is just happy to have the chance to do whatever he can for the organization. Except pitch.
“I was questioning myself this winter as to how I was going to feel,” he said. “But I never had an itch. When guys started throwing, I just kind of watched them throw, which was kind of strange.”
When the minor league games begin at the Cardinals’ complex today, Carpenter will be at the back fields watching. He will follow Mozeliak and Girsch, too.
“It’s definitely different not being in uniform and stuff,” said Carpenter, whose body finally gave out on him last year after a stellar Cardinals career.
“But I’m also at peace with what’s going on.”
On the other hand, he wants to earn whatever comes his way.
“I don’t want to be that charity guy,” he said. “If I have something to offer that they want, that they need, I’m here for that and I always will be.”
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, who met with his former teammate the other day, knows that Carpenter won’t be bashful.
“Carp just can’t help himself,” said Matheny, smiling. “I told him that every day he can be around our clubhouse, we’ve got a chance to get better, mainly because he can’t control himself.
“He’s going to say something. And I know what his drive is. It’s not to be this imposing force. It’s to do what’s right. He’s passionate about doing what’s right for the game and that’s something we all respect about him.’’
Carpenter said, “I’m a very honest, open person that speaks freely and that would help a lot of people, not just at this level but throughout this organization.
“Baseball is who I am and what I do. I appreciate the opportunity they’re giving me to stay involved. Not all organizations do that, and for them to come to me and ask me to stay involved is pretty special.”
Matheny, lamenting that the instant replay procedure didn’t work to his satisfaction Tuesday in the ninth inning on a call at third base, said he hoped the Cardinals could send their video to the offices of Major League Baseball.
“We’d like to have a better interpretation of what irrefutable evidence would be, just so we can go about the challenge process — to kind of figure out this loose science of what they’re willing to overturn a call,” Matheny said.
Matheny said he understood that the technology in spring training isn’t be what it will be during the season. But he said, “We had 10 people upstairs (on Tuesday), five with the Cardinals and five with the Mets, and I believe everybody said (the runner was) safe.”
GARCIA IS BACK
Lefthander Jaime Garcia returned to camp Wednesday after visiting Dr. James Andrews and his facility in Birmingham, Ala., for tests and some additional rehab on his left shoulder. Garcia said the inflammation in the shoulder had been tamed and that he expected to begin light throwing soon.
“Before the team leaves (at the end of this month), I want to be pretty close to being on the mound,” Garcia said. “That’s my goal. I haven’t heard from the trainers if that’s possible. I want to be ready, but I know we want to be careful, smart, too.’’
RIPKEN LAUDS CARDS
Hall of Fame shortstop Cal Ripken Jr., talking to the Baltimore Sun about his experiences covering the Cardinals in the playoffs for the TBS network, said, “I really enjoyed being around the St. Louis Cardinals last year. It’s interesting to see the youth and how the youth was embraced at the big league level. And some of their organizational philosophies were pretty cool to witness first hand.”
Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.