Chris Carpenter threw for the first time Wednesday in five months and reported no problems. But I can't help but think of this more as the beginning of the journey than the end of his trip back to health.
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First, Carpenter threw with light effort. Although he gradually pumped up the speed of his pitches, he threw nowhere near maximum effort. Second, he threw no breaking balls, which put more stress on the elbow and upper arm than fastballs.
But, even if he makes it up to full tilt, who knows when something is going to aggravate the nerve condition that shelved him not only last year but in 2004 as well? Apparently the Cardinals have more than their fair share of concerns. They have second year hurler Kyle McClellan pitching on the same schedule as Carpenter as an understudy who is ready to step in if the 2005 Cy Young Award winner falters.
And like in a broadway play, no one wants to see the understudy have to play the lead role. So we're all going to have to hold our breath every time Carpenter lets one go. And it probably wouldn't hurt if we all crossed our fingers, too.