Chris Carpenter, the rehabbing (again) Cardinals righthander who threw another extended side session in the bullpen Monday afternoon, cautioned that neither he nor anyone else should look too far ahead regarding his comeback. But, anticipating the day he might be pitching again, Carpenter said he would do it differently from last year when he returned from surgery that presumably had repaired a nerve ailment affecting his neck and shoulder.
Attention, Cardinals affiliates:
Carpenter said Monday that if he is able to come back, he plans to do so with several minor league appearances on a rehabilitation plan rather than go right to big-league competition as he did last year when he was able to pitch. One of the glitches, of course, last year was that it was September and the Cardinals’ minor league affiliates all had finished their seasons, but Carpenter said he saw more value in facing live competition.
In Monday’s session, Carpenter threw 28 pitches and then sat for a couple of minutes and then returned to throw 28 more. Down the line, he anticipates taking a couple of breaks, simulating, in a fashion, an inning when his team would be hitting.
“We’re trying to set up a plan rather than me just going out and heaving balls,” said the 38-year-old.
Carpenter, who threw quite a number of breaking balls, mostly on his second set, will take today off and throw another side session Wednesday and then another before this home stand is over.
A couple of his veteran pitching teammates who observed the session were complimentary.
“The ball looked good coming out of his hand,” said injured righthander Jake Westbrook, who admitted he marveled at another potential Carpenter comeback but added, “There really shouldn’t be any shock when it comes to Chris Carpenter.”
Adam Wainwright said, “He looks like Carp to me. He’s still wearing No. 29. I told him, ‘Not bad for a retired guy.’’’
Carpenter said, “It’s doing all right. But I’m not going to get super-excited. I have a ways to go, stuff-wise, before I expect to get major league hitters out. But at least I’m on the right path.”
Last year, Carpenter started three regular-season and three postseason games, winning one and never going past six innings. He admits he was still off his game.
“I didn’t realize it until I got out there,” he said. “That’s why we’re going to take the path that we’re taking this time. One, that I’m strong throughout my body and then I’m going to go face hitters and do the whole rehab stuff and get competitive.
“Before I do any of that, I’ll face hitters in batting practice, too. It will be almost like a spring training deal. The rehab process would be kind of like spring training where you work your pitch count up and get your five or six starts.
“It’s definitely going to be a test but I’m looking forward to it. But I’m not looking too far ahead.”
Wainwright is, though. Asked if he thought Carpenter actually could pull this off, Wainwright said, “I wouldn’t bet against it.”
Today marks the 25th anniversary of Cardinals coach Jose Oquendo pitching four innings and suffering the 7-5 loss in a 19-inning game at Busch Stadium No. 2. Utility man Oquendo allowed two runs in the 19th and four hits overall while walking six and fanning one, opposing pitcher Rick Mahler.
Oquendo, recounting some of his memories of that night, said one of them was “we left the bases loaded and we didn’t score.”
That happened in the 18th when Duane Walker lined into a double play, taking a potential win away form Oquendo. Oquendo then allowed a two-run double to Ken Griffey Sr., in the 19th. The game lasted 5 hours 40 minutes and was started for the Cardinals by Cris Carpenter.
No, not that one. This Carpenter was a former University of Georgia punter and pitcher.
The next day, though Oquendo barely could raise his arm above his waist, he played center field. Willie McGee was injured and when manager Whitey Herzog asked Oquendo if he could play the outfield, Oquendo was too professional to say no.
“We know our roles,” said Oquendo. “We can’t say much in those situations.”
But Oquendo admitted, “I was hurt from head to toe.”
When asked how long it took his arm to bounce back, Oquendo said, “It hasn’t come back. That’s why I don’t throw BP.”