St. Louis Cardinals

Wait-and-see approach for Cardinals’ Carpenter, Rosenthal

The Cardinals’ Matt Carpenter has been slowed by a lower-back injury in camp.
The Cardinals’ Matt Carpenter has been slowed by a lower-back injury in camp. Steve Nagy

Matt Carpenter isn’t close to returning to duty in spring training.

The converted first baseman has lower-back stiffness, a setback that prevented him from playing for the United States team in the World Baseball Classic.

The season is less than a month away, but the St. Louis Cardinals haven’t yet reached the stage where they’re concerned that Carpenter won’t be able to answer the bell.

But first, he has to return to full activity in camp.

“We’re still a ways out,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said Tuesday. “I would say it’s still a week before we’re going to watch him swing. (Monday) was his first day off the tee. There’s slow progress there.”

Matheny acknowledged the Cardinals are being extra-cautious with Carpenter after seeing their All-Star miss significant time last season with an oblique injury.

The same approach is true for reliever Trevor Rosenthal, who was unable to make his scheduled start Monday because of soreness in his latissimus dorsi muscle, near his right arm.

Rosenthal underwent an MRI; results were negative.

“We’re just going to go slow and make sure it’s strong before we let it go,” Matheny said, adding that doctors were putting a program together to help Rosenthal move along.

Rosenthal said he knew the injury wasn’t serious.

“They just wanted to be sure, just because of that area, that it wasn’t worse than it was,” Rosenthal said. “My feeling is I wasn’t really worried. It’s all good.”

Rosenthal still has no idea what his role will be this season. Seung Hwan Oh has displaced him as the closer, and the rotation seems full even after the injury to Alex Reyes.

“We’ll see what happens. I don’t know,” he said. “It’s just one of those things where I don’t really have a lot of control over it. Just show up and do my best. That’s all I do.” 

David Wilhelm: 618-239-2665, @DavidMWilhelm