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CARPENTER EXCITED AFTER SIMULATED GAME
Fri, 07 Sep 2012 02:30 AM EDT

St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter threw 50 pitches on Tuesday in a three-inning simulated game, taking another step in an effort to brace the club’s National League wild card chances.

The 37-year-old right-hander underwent surgery in July to relieve nerve compression that resulted in numbness on lots of the right side of his body in July, with the hope he could return for spring training. He upped the ante Tuesday, 4 days after working 2 innings in Washington.

”It was a good day,” Carpenter declared. ”Hopefully the next couple of days I should recover nicely and we’ll do it again.”

Cardinals’ manager Mike Matheny was enthused, as well.

”The ball was leaping out of his hand. It’s really in his finish,” Matheny claimed. ”He has sink, he has cut, which he was not really able to do before.”

Still, Matheny is trying his best to keep expectations realistic for a pitcher sidelined since spring training. Several times he sidestepped questions, and grew increasingly irritated, when asked when the 2005 National League Cy Young winner might be ready or how he would be used – or even if he would be used in the postseason without throwing in the regular season.

”I don’t know the way to make it any clearer,” Matheny announced. “We’re taking today, and I’m not counting on him to do anything except come back tomorrow and tell us how he felt.

”My philosophy is to just let the guy go pitch, and it’ll work itself out in time. I would like to say I say sorry but that wouldn’t be sincere.”

Cardinals’ GM John Mozeliak announced that if Carpenter returns, it’ll be as a starter.

”I need to be able to pitch,” Carpenter announced. ”I also must ensure I’m good enough to help this ballclub. We’ve got some quality fellows. I’ve got to get my stuff right, get my command right, get my pitch limit up to where I can give us a positive effort.”

Carpenter said the plan calls for bullpen sessions Friday and Monday as he continues to build strength. He could replace either rookie Joe Kelly, 5-6 with a 3.34 ERA, or lefty Jaime Garcia, 3-6 with a 4.52 ERA entering Tuesday’s start against the New York Mets, in the rotation. Basketball odds

After the operation in Dallas, the hope was that Carpenter could return in time for spring training. Carpenter gave himself the best chance by staying in shape before the surgery.

”Coming out of it, we knew it was a shot if I could get strong,” Carpenter said. ”I went into it strong and I came out of it strong, so I was ahead of the game to start with, and my arm came back nicely.

”We’re moving in the right direction.”

The Cardinals added another arm for their playoff drive, purchasing the agreement of top pitching prospect Shelby Miller from Triple-A Memphis. The 21-year-old Miller was the Cardinals’ first-round pick in 2009 and had a big August, going 5-1 with a 2.89 ERA in 6 starts, after inconsistent performances most of the year.


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