Carpenter rehab stopped by lower back injury

Carpenter rehab stopped by lower back injury

Credit: UPI

St. Louis Cardinals pitching ace Chris Carpenter talks to reporters about his health and decision not to report to spring training, during a press conference at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on February 11, 2013. Carpenter told club officials last week he was expirencing pain in his hand after throwing a bullpen session and was unsure he could throw again. Carpenter stopped short of saying he is retiring but did indicate he will not throw until he consults with doctors. Carpenter, who has been with the team for 10 years, underwent shoulder surgery last season and did not return to the team until September 2012. UPI/Bill Greenblatt

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by R.B. Fallstrom / Associated Press

KMOV.com

Posted on June 20, 2013 at 6:10 PM

ST. LOUIS (AP) — St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter's rehab has been put on hold after he injured his lower back in a bullpen session.

General manager John Mozeliak said Thursday that any contribution this season from Carpenter, sidelined since February with nerve issues on the right side of his body, would be a bonus. But he said the prognosis has improved the last few days.

"We don't think it's as serious as we first thought," Mozeliak said. "It's slowing things down. Hopefully we can continue to work at it. As you can tell, we've got to be patient here."

Before spring training, the 38-year-old Carpenter and the team believed the injury might be career-ending. The 2005 NL Cy Young winner had been steadily progressing before the back tightened after he finished throwing Sunday.

Mozeliak anticipated the team would have a better handle on the situation after other doctors in St. Louis weighed in on the back issue. He said it was too soon to label starting pitching as a target at the trade deadline, and wasn't ready to dangle top prospects as bait.

The Cardinals had the best record in the majors despite numerous pitching injuries. Jaime Garcia and closer Jason Motte are out for the year and Jake Westbrook missed a month with a shoulder injury, but St. Louis has gotten big contributions from several rookie fill-ins.

"I don't know what our needs will be on July 31st," Mozelilak said. "The good news is, we're playing pretty good baseball and we have six weeks to sort through it."

Carpenter was 21-5 with a 2.83 ERA in his '05 Cy Young season and was second after going 17-4 with a 2.24 ERA in 2009. Before this season, he had missed most or all of five seasons due to shoulder, elbow and nerve injuries.

Last season, he returned from radical surgery to relieve nerve compression in time to help the Cardinals earn the final NL wild card spot. The right-hander is in the final year of a two-year contract.

Two top relievers from the recent past, Mitchell Boggs and Fernando Salas, are in the minors. Boggs, twice demoted after fumbling the job as stand-in closer, is back in the bullpen at Triple-A Memphis at his request after making three starts, and Salas is being prepped for possible multi-inning middle relief.

 

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