Chris Carpenter's rehab efforts on hold after numbness returns in right hand

News-DemocratJuly 23, 2013 

— After experiencing numbness in his right hand during his rehab start Saturday for Class AAA Memphis, St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter's comeback attempt was shut down Tuesday.

"I'm going to take a little bit of time," Carpenter said. "After that last (start), it just wasn't what we were looking for. I wasn't happy with the way I recovered, and neither was the medical staff.

"We're going to take a step back, again. I said all along we're going to be very patient with what's going on. We'll see what the next step is. We haven't figured that out yet."

Carpenter first felt numbness in the hand during offseason workouts, which was related to the nerve problem in his right shoulder and arm.

But the 38-year-old started feeling better in May. He began throwing in the bullpen, faced hitters and threw simulated games before finally being cleared to begin a rehab assignment in the minor leagues.

Carpenter made one start for Class AA Springfield before his assignment with Memphis. He has allowed seven runs (six earned) on 15 hits in six innings.

Carpenter said he felt numbness during his outing against Oklahoma City on Saturday.

"But I wasn't going to come out of the game and tell everybody that I wasn't feeling good before I could speak to any of these guys here," Carpenter said. "I knew after the game it wasn't right and I needed to go ahead and talk to them and the doctors."

Carpenter discussed the situation Monday with manager Mike Matheny, pitching coach Derek Lilliquist and General Manager John Mozeliak.

"The decision was to go ahead and back off," Carpenter said. "When all the doctors get here and the trainers get together, we'll figure out what everything thinks is the next step. ... They believe that if I continue to keep throwing at the intensity of rehabbing and (throwing) 100 pitches, it's going to eventually lead down the same path as it has in the past. It eventually goes numb.

"We're not going to go ahead and make that step. We're going to go ahead and back off and try to figure out what's going on. We'll figure out what, where and why and move forward."

The Cardinals hoped Carpenter would be healthy enough to join the rotation by the middle of August. But given Carpenter's history of health issues, his return would have been a bonus.

"We've all tried to be cautious moving forward with this," Matheny said. "Really, we've been taking each day like anybody else. You just never know what it's going to feel like with each step. I know we've all wanted to be excited and put a timeline (on it). ... It's not fair, but it's been kind of amplified because it's Chris."

Although disappointed, Carpenter isn't defeated.

"It is what it is," he said. "I told you guys all along that the expectation level wasn't huge. (But) there's no question, you get close and you start getting a little excited. But I'm ready for anything. We'll see what happens.

"I'm not giving up on what's going on. There's something (good) there, because I had it in Springfield for a little bit. It's just a question on how we can get it to stay."

Contact reporter David Wilhelm at or 239-2665. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidMWilhelm.

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