ST. LOUIS — Rehabilitating St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter passed another test on his comeback trail Monday.
Carpenter threw 40-plus pitches of live batting practice to teammates Shane Robinson and Matt Adams, both of whom said Carpenter appeared as nasty as ever.
Carpenter also was pleased with his first encounter with hitters.
"It was a good first step," said Carpenter, who has been throwing bullpens for the past six weeks. "Basically, it was the same exact thing that we've done the last two times except we threw some hitters in there."
Carpenter, 38, isn't looking too far ahead, although a rehab assignment in the minors is on the horizon.
"I'm sure I'm going to continue to repeat this a few different times before I do anything different," Carpenter said. "When that will be, I don't know. ... (But) I will say that I felt good. I felt in control of my body and my stuff feels pretty good. Hopefully, I can continue to get sharper and stronger."
Clearly, Carpenter is trending in the right direction.
"This is the first time I've had three (sessions) in a row that really went well," he said. "Before, I was throwing a couple of good ones and having a couple of bad ones. I've been able to get up there consistently three times in a row. My stuff was OK today, but it still needs to get better."
Robinson also faced Carpenter in live batting practice late last season when Carpenter was coming back from thoracic outlet syndrome surgery.
"He had a lot better stuff this first time out than last year's first time out," Robinson said. "This is just me seeing him; I haven't talked to him about it yet. But it seems like he feels a lot better than he did last year. He was trying to treat it like a game.
"He really didn't throw me anything straight. He wasn't pinpoint accuracy with everything, but he had an idea what he was doing with every pitch. It's just fine-tuning it."
"He was treating it like he was pitching in a game. Everything had movement," Adams said. "His curveball was sharp, his changeup had good fade to it and his fastball would run --and he cut a couple, too."
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny was among a handful of others standing behind the screen during Carpenter's workout.
"I thought he threw the ball well," Matheny said. "The ball came out of his hand nice and his secondary pitches were there. It was another good step. (He'll keep) building up his stamina."
No one would have blamed Carpenter in February had he decided to retire after battling numbness in his arm and discoloration in his hand. The Cardinals deemed him out for the season.
But Carpenter said then that he would never utter the "R" word.
"I wasn't ever going to give up," he said. "I never said that I was not going to try. Fortunately, my body's recovered and my arm is recovering. So we're going to see what happens."