Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Carpenter Steps Up His Rehab; Notebook; Injured Ace Will Start a Program That May Put Him Back on Mound in Late July; CARDINALS

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Carpenter Steps Up His Rehab; Notebook; Injured Ace Will Start a Program That May Put Him Back on Mound in Late July; CARDINALS

Article excerpt

Chris Carpenter is past thinking about the future in terms of certainty. If he needed a reminder, this spring's recurrence of a nerve-related disorder told him that nothing should be taken for granted.

Carpenter is on the cusp of resuming a throwing program for the first time since his shutdown in mid-March.

Carpenter recently began throwing into a net from short distance to begin his conditioning program. When the team departs Monday for a three-city road trip, Carpenter will remain in St. Louis to begin throwing into a glove. It's a significant step in a process that points the 2005 NL Cy Young Award winner and 2009 runner-up to a return in late July or early August.

Recently, Carpenter has thrown a weighted ball into a net at Busch Stadium.

He says he feels no lingering discomfort from a condition that started in his neck and led to shoulder weakness during spring training.

Carpenter considers his next step akin to the more flexible process he typically puts himself through before traveling to Jupiter, Fla., for spring training.

"It's not anything that's strict or completely mapped out. It's not as if I'm going to throw two sets of 20 from 60 feet. That's not it. It's about how it feels today," Carpenter said. "... If I play catch one day and it feels good the next I'm going to continue to condition my arm and get ready to throw off an arm like I normally would before spring."

Carpenter is guarding against runaway optimism. He had nerve issues in 2004 and 2008.

"I'll be excited when I get back on the mound out there. At this point in time, I thought I was already past that," Carpenter said. "Right now, it's hard to know what to expect. I'll say it's exciting to the extent that it's moving in the right direction."

The club once thought Carpenter could return to the rotation before June. That hope vanished long ago. So, after working more than 273 innings last year, Carpenter's opponent this season is tedium.

"It's about going day to day, step by step," Carpenter said. …

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