Retired Cardinal Chris Carpenter on pitching: 'I don't miss it'

News-DemocratMarch 12, 2014 

— Chris Carpenter isn't yet sure what job responsibilities he will have as special assistant to St. Louis Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak.

But the retired right-hander, who arrived at spring training Monday, is eager to find out.

"I met with 'Mo' the other day," Carpenter said. "We're still just kind of sorting things out, figuring out what the best thing is for me and what the best thing is for him. I'm just excited to be down here and see the guys. We'll figure it out in the next two weeks."

Carpenter was still making the rounds Wednesday. He hugged Michael Wacha and Adam Wainwright, watched Shelby Miller and Joe Kelly throw in the bullpen and joined a conversation with Wainwright, Wacha, Lance Lynn and pitching coach Derek Lilliquist.

"It's just fun to be back down and see everybody," said Carpenter, who will be in camp until March 22. "It's definitely different not being in uniform and stuff, but I'm also at peace with what's going on. I feel good about it and I look forward to my next journey --whatever it is."

There was no more talk of a comeback.

"There's no question I battled, and it could go on for a while," Carpenter, 38, said of a career that began in May 1997. "But the reality is it's not going to work. No matter how hard I push it, it's not going to happen.

"I feel good about where I'm at and what I'm doing. I don't have that desire to go out and put a uniform on and try to get guys out. ... It's weird, but I don't feel uneasy. I don't feel like I should be out there doing it. I don't miss it."

Carpenter said he watched Lynn and Miller work out in the offseason, and that confirmed to him that it was the right decision to end a career in which he was 144-94 with a 3.76 ERA.

"The amount of effort you have to put in to getting prepared for the season and the pressure that comes with it, I don't miss it at all," Carpenter said.

Carpenter expects to have more serious conversations with Mozeliak about his role in the coming weeks. Carpenter has told Mozeliak he doesn't want to be "that charity guy."

"If I have something to offer that they want and they need, I'm here for that, and I always will be," Carpenter said. "I expressed to Mo: 'I don't want to be the guy that's making up my own role. I want you to tell me what you need and what you feel I'll be good at and what you feel will help this organization and help you.' Then we'll figure out the best role and the best timing and those sorts of things.

"I think that's where we're at. I want him to tell me. He's the boss."

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said Tuesday that he believed Carpenter would be an excellent coach, and Carpenter has told Mozeliak that he wouldn't be opposed to being in uniform again at some point in the future.

Carpenter, fiery as a player, said he has enough patience to be a coach.

"My competitive nature is on the mound," he said. "Being around these guys and not competing ... I'm trying to help them. The knowledge and experience, that's all you're trying to pass along.

"I'm a very honest, open person that speaks freely. I think that can help a lot of people, not just at this level, but throughout the organization. That's where we're at. We'll see what happens, see what Mo thinks and go from there."

Even before he learns his job description, Carpenter expressed gratitude just for the chance to stay connected to the game.

"Baseball is who I am and what I do," he said. "I appreciate the opportunity that they gave me to stay involved. Not all organizations do that. For them to come to me right away and ask me to stay involved, that feels pretty special."

Carpenter, for the first time as an inactive player, said a positive culture in the Cardinals' clubhouse has the team on solid footing as it works to defend its National League championship.

"It goes with the quality of the guys that we have, the coaches and everybody that takes care of everybody," Carpenter said. "It's not just about talent, it's about who we have in the clubhouse and how we go about our business in there. We've got quality guys that are going to make sure we do it the right way." Contact reporter David Wilhelm at dwilhelm@bnd.com or 239-2665. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidMWilhelm.

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