Could Chris Carpenter attempt a comeback?
The injured St. Louis Cardinals pitcher, who in early February determined he was not healthy enough to compete because of pain and numbness in his right side, has started a throwing program at Busch Stadium and apparently hasn't eliminated dreams of a comeback.
"This is probably going to be a bigger deal because everything was made out --or going in the direction --that maybe he's done," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny told mlb.com Saturday before his ballclub faced the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park.
"But I think any player that may feel all of a sudden their health's allowing them to do things they didn't think they were going to do, they're going to go out there and see how far they can take it," Matheny continued.
Carpenter, 38, experienced numbness in his arm and discoloration in his hand when he tried to turn up the intensity in his offseason throwing program.
In February, the Cardinals called a news conference at Busch Stadium to explain that Carpenter probably would not pitch in 2013.
Less than a week later, Carpenter addressed the issues and reiterated the same thing. Carpenter, however, stopped short of announcing his retirement.
"I don't think I'll ever retire," Carpenter said Feb. 11. "I'll never say that word. There might always be hope. Maybe when I'm 48 I can come back and do it some more."
Carpenter, who underwent thoracic outlet syndrome surgery July 19 in Dallas, made six September starts and was 0-2 with a 3.71 ERA. Carpenter is 144-94 with a 3.76 ERA in his career, including 95-44 with a 3.07 ERA for the Cardinals.
Carpenter won the 2005 Cy Young Award, finishing 21-5 with a 2.83 ERA in 33 starts. He threw seven complete games. In 2009, he led the National League with a 2.24 ERA.
St. Louis has experienced extreme problems in the bullpen this season, particularly with Mitchell Boggs and Marc Rzepczynski, both of whom have been dispatched to Class AAA Memphis.
Rookies Seth Maness and Carlos Martinez have joined the Cardinals in the last few days, and Carpenter would figure to add another bullpen component since he isn't likely to be able to throw extended innings.
How much Carpenter can realistically offer, however, is up for debate. The Cardinals will have to determine whether Carpenter's arm is capable of responding to the daily rigors of throwing.
Carpenter also must decide whether the risk is worth the reward. He could jeopardize future use of his arm if he pushes it beyond what it's capable of giving --a legitimate possibility for a player who has had issues with his arm throughout his career.
Carpenter said in February that he would not undergo another procedure on his arm.
Carpenter is signed through this season. The Cardinals are paying him $12.5 million.
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at email@example.com or 239-2665.