JUPITER, Fla. • Sunday marked four months since outfielder Allen Craig's right knee operation. At the time of the surgery, Craig was told by doctors to look at four to six months of recovery time. By the way Craig is progressing this spring, he seems to have the "under" on that medical estimate.
General manager John Mozeliak even said Sunday it was possible that World Series hero Craig would be ready by opening day April 4.
"He's hitting every day. That's the most important thing," said Mozeliak. "And he's been running, too."
Craig, who also has been tracking fly balls in batting practice, said he hoped to be engaging in baserunning drills soon and added, "I don't think we're leaving anything out of the question. We're leaving it open. My goal was always to play in some games down here.
"Hopefully, we can make that happen. But ... to be determined, as to how many games it will take me to get ready."
Noting the four-month mark Sunday, Craig said, "We're in the range now. It could be possible.
"I've made a lot of progress. It's exciting but I'm just trying to make sure I'm good to go and not pushing it."
ON THE HORIZON
Before he went out to throw an important batting practice session Sunday, Chris Carpenter, trying to pick up steam after being sidelined for nearly two weeks by a bulging disc problem in his neck, took time to watch the warmup session of 21-year-old Trevor Rosenthal, who has lit up radar guns at 100 miles an hour this spring after a 7-7 season at Quad Cities last year.
Then, during a break in the action, Carpenter showed Rosenthal how he holds the ball to throw a "cutter."
Carpenter likes very much what he sees of Rosenthal and other young pitchers in camp.
"I've been here 9½ years and I've never seen so many arms like this in camp. And that goes for the some of the guys who already have been sent back," said Carpenter.
But the blond-haired Rosenthal, a Lee's Summit, Mo., product, seems to be the one who has grown most on Carpenter.
"He's got a chance to be really good, and he's a really good kid," said Carpenter. "He's got great stuff and a bright future ahead of him.
"I don't know if I've ever been around a better kid. It's not just that, but he's got some attitude. He just doesn't show it. He's got good (guts)."
Carpenter, discussing the premise that the ball sounds different when it hits the glove after a Rosenthal delivery, smiled and said, "Those were the days,'' referring to his own velocity 15 years ago.
Rosenthal scarcely could contain his excitement about Carpenter's interest.
"I'm very fortunate to have a guy like that come up to me," Rosenthal said. "He's given me so much information and the way he continues to come up to me and take interest is awesome."
Adam Wainwright, another veteran pitcher who is intrigued by Rosenthal, said, "I see a guy who is hungry, and that's good to see.
"You see some young guys come in here and act too comfortable and act like they own the place. Trevor has worked his tail off every single day.
"He's doing it the right way, which is something we all respect about him. And ... he throws 100."
Rosenthal, a 21st-round selection in the 2009 draft, said, "I'm not here to get in their way. They're here to get ready for what they have to do this year. If I can see an opportunity to pick their brain a little if they're not busy, then I see that as a good opportunity.
"I'm just going to keep listening. Every day is an opportunity to learn something new."
DESCALSO MOVING AROUND
Daniel Descalso started at third base Sunday, and although he made a throwing error on a bunt play, he singled and raised his average to .385. He also has started at second base and shortstop, where he played Saturday and where he finished the epic Game 6 of the World Series, contributing a single off Texas lefthander Darren Oliver to ignite a game-tying rally in the 10th inning.
"Shortstop probably is the spot he feels the least comfortable so far, so we're trying to get him a little more work," said manager Mike Matheny.
The manager said he would be "comfortable" if Descalso had to play shortstop for a week or so. "He's got the arm strength," said Matheny. "He's got the range.
"He's just an overall infielder. Everything he does is right."