(Baseball StL) -- It was by far and away the most fascinating 50-pitch bullpen session I had ever seen. Normally, they’re attended by - what - 3 or 4 guys and hardly register among the day’s events?
Not when Chris Carpenter is on the mound, though. Not at all.
The entire team (I repeat: the ENTIRE team) watched each pitch with such intensity that you’d think it was Game 7 of the World Series and the future of the franchise depended on it.
In reality, it was just another small step in getting their unquestioned leader back onto the field. And that’s the thing right there. Chris Carpenter is the unquestioned leader. I asked a couple of the players on the field during that session and they agreed. They told me there isn’t another person on that team (maybe Adam Wainwright) who would draw that many faces to the field to watch a simple bullpen session.
It was as if these men were watching and waiting for their leader to rise and take them to the promised land. And they couldn’t go anywhere until he did just that.
What Chris Carpenter means to this franchise goes far beyond his 144 career wins, his 3.76 career ERA and his 2202 innings pitched. When Carpenter is in uniform and on this team, it makes the other 24 guys know they’re not alone and they don’t have to do it all themselves. It gives them a sense of comfort knowing this man is going to take charge.
That’s what leaders do. They put their teammates at ease. They motivate. They inspire.
Some lead by their words and some lead by example. Carpenter leads by all of that. His presence is enough.
If MLB forced all teams to put the captain’s “C” on the chest of someone, make no mistake about it, the players would all choose - ironically - the man whose initials are CC. Chris Carpenter.
Sure, there are other leaders on this team. Yadier Molina has picked up a lot of what Albert Pujols did among position players. Adam Wainwright does a terrific job in this department as well. Even Lance Berkman and Skip Schumaker are leaders, among others.
But no one else has the ability to draw an entire roster, a coaching staff, a general manager, several cameras and even fans to a simple live bullpen session. Those typically draw, at most, 6 or 7 faces.
Not for Carpenter. The Cardinals needed to watch their leader as he rises once again.