ST. LOUIS — Chris Carpenter's comeback is gaining momentum with every bullpen session.
Carpenter threw his fourth bullpen Friday afternoon at Busch Stadium and said afterward that his arm is feeling stronger.
"There are a lot of questions on why (I'm doing this)," Carpenter said. "I'm not trying to be a hero or do anything crazy. I just want to go out and see if I can pitch and see how it feels.
"I'm not going to have super-high expectations, but as long as it continues to go well, I'm going to continue to go out and take that next step. So far, it's been good."
Carpenter, who turned 38 in February, was believed to be sidelined for the season when he experienced numbness and discoloration in his right arm following preseason throwing. The Cardinals declared Carpenter out for the season, and the veteran right-hander announced he probably wouldn't even visit spring training.
Carpenter, however, stopped short of retiring, despite being discouraged by his situation.
In mid-April, Carpenter said he was playing catch with his 10-year-old son, Sam, and realized the numbness no longer existed.
"He was starting baseball and I started playing catch with him and my arm felt pretty good," Carpenter said. "He was saying I was throwing it too hard. So I was trying to back off a little bit, but then it started feeling good and I was like, 'You know what? You're going to have to back up and catch it.'"
That set the wheels in motion.
"I was talking to my wife (Alyson) and I (told her I) still had a little bit in me that definitely wanted to get back up there and try," Carpenter said. "I talked to Mo (General Manager John Mozeliak) and I knew it was going to be a shot in the dark to see what would happen, but I definitely wanted to get up there and start throwing to see what would happen and actually put an effort into this rehabilitation process. So far, it's been good."
Carpenter's bullpen Friday was more strenuous than the first three. He threw all of his pitches --and more of them.
"Knock on wood, I'm past where I was in spring. I know that," Carpenter said. "I'm out there at full strength throwing all my pitches. I threw a lot of pitches today. Usually, I've been around 50 to 55 pitches, and I think I probably threw like 70 today out there to see how it's going to go."
Carpenter expects to throw another bullpen Monday. He said his workout schedule will be methodical and perhaps lengthy, with the idea being to put as much stress on his arm as possible to make sure it's capable of holding up in game conditions.
"I'll just continue to get some work up there (on the mound) and continue to put some stress on my arm and see what happens," Carpenter said. "I've had no problems. I've had no issues and no setbacks so far and my arm feels strong. I'm feeling good about it and I'll continue to do it."
Carpenter said his comeback attempt has nothing to do with him getting another opportunity to pitch in the postseason. The Cardinals began Friday with the best record in baseball. Carpenter said it's all about him still having the desire to compete.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny can't imagine Carpenter ever having the drive not to pitch.
"I think he's about as tough as anybody I've ever been around," Matheny said. "(He's) mentally tough, and physically, we've seen him come back from quite a few different things.
"This guys loves the game of baseball; this guy loves to compete. He's had an opportunity for a long time to compete against some of the best in the world, and to come out as an elite player. That's something that's just part of who he is and part of what drives him."
Carpenter said he will have a clearer idea about where his rehab will take him when the Cardinals end their homestand May 19.
"I'm going to throw another (bullpen) Monday and depending on how I come out of that, Wednesday or Thursday. We'll see," Carpenter said. "I think by the end of the homestand, I'll know how I'm feeling and we're going to have to at least start talking about a schedule after that."
If he is able to return, Carpenter doesn't know whether he will be a starter or a reliever. Frankly, he said, it doesn't matter to him.
"I'm not concerned about it," he said. "I'm going to get to the point where I'm ready to pitch and feel good about pitching. That's their decision. ... We'll see what happens. I don't want to look ahead. I want to continue to take this one step at a time. I know it's cliche, but I really need to do that, and that's what I'm going to do."
Carpenter said he told Mozeliak he will "do whatever it takes to pitch --wherever (the Cardinals) need me."
"If there's not a spot, there's not a spot," Carpenter said. "But I know where I stand. I wanted to make sure he knew that. I'll do whatever they want me to do."
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2665.