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Carpenter shut down for a second time

The Cardinals originally were relieved when they learned that Chris Carpenter had a bulging disc in his neck that was responsible for pain that was limiting his ability to throw.

But what seemed like the best possible news might not be so good after all. Carpenter, the 2005 Cy Young Award winner and heart and soul of the St. Louis rotation, has had a recurrence of neck issues and has been shut down for a second time.

While it seemed doubtful that Carpenter would be ready to start the Cardinals' first game of the season a few days ago, it now seems probable that he's going to end up on the disabled list.

Carpenter hasn't yet thrown an inning of Grapefruit League ball. Even if the team was able to fing a magic bullet solution to this problem, the ace is likely going to have to start to preparing for the season from scratch. And it's going to spill over into April before he had his stamina up to the level where he can be counted on to pitch five innings. At this point, that is the best case scenario.

Meanwhile, Lance Lynn will prepare to be a starter, not the durable set-up man he was expected to be in the bullpen.

While that's not good news because it will force the Birds to shuffle their deck, it is probably good news for a reliever who would otherwise start the season in the minors. Assuming the Cardinals will use Marc Rzepczynski and J.C. Romero from the left side of the bullpen, the club has five spots for righty relievers. The Candidates include Kyle McClellan, Mitchell Boggs, Scott Linebrink, Fernando Salas, Eduardo Sanchez, Victor Marte, Jason Motte and Lynn. All of them have pitched well enough to earn a roster spot.