(BaseballStL) -- While his teammates start to report to spring training in sunny Florida, Chris Carpenter sat under fluorescent lights inside Busch Stadium to address the media about another setback in his career.
This one is similar to last season’s arm issues which limited Carpenter to six total starts and now could be the final dagger to his career.
“At some point in time you have to be like ‘alright enough is enough, you can only push it so much.’ I can’t pitch with the way that I feel right now. It’s not fair to anyone,” Carpenter said.
Carpenter, who made his first start last season against the Cubs on September 21, admitted he wasn’t one hundred percent after returning from surgery to repair nerve issues in his arm and hoped the offseason would give him time to build strength. He knew it failed when his hand turned red and ached after throwing a bullpen session a few weeks ago.
“There was a few different things that in the first or second bullpen my hand ended up turning red and purple and was aching a little bit which I know is probably not a good thing,” Carpenter said. “From that point going forward, the third (bullpen session) I definitely could tell there was something else going on that some of those numbnesses and tingling was coming back and the fatigue was coming back.”
After his last session on February 1, the 37-year-old Carpenter stopped trying to “trick” himself into thinking it was fine and notified general manager John Mozeliak of the problem.
Mozeliak and Matheny then held a join press conference a few days later to announce the setback. It was more somber tone than the one delivered by Carpenter, who isn’t ruling out a return.
“I think that there is a little bit of hope there. With everything that’s come out, obviously it was news that (Mozeliak) and the organization and myself wasn’t expecting. It is what it is. I’ve got to figure out what’s going on,” Carpenter said.
Monday was the first time Carpenter spoke about the recent arm issues and admitted to not responding to the numerous text messages and phone calls left for him for fear of being a distraction. It’s also why he doesn’t plan on making the trip to Jupiter for spring training.
“One, I’m not ready to go down there and throw. Mike (Matheny) and (Mozeliak) and a lot of the guys have texted me and asked me to come down. I know (Matheny) and (Mozeliak) both look at me like I’m crazy, but I don’t want to be a distraction,” Carpenter said. “And two, I just want to get away and just try to evaluate what’s going on and make sure I don’t put myself in a situation where all of a sudden I get down there and it’s like ‘alright, here I go. I’m going to try some more’ and end up doing something that isn’t going to work.”
The only thing the 2009 Comeback Player of the Year can’t do at the present moment is throw a baseball at a high velocity.
Carpenter will take time before meeting with a collection of doctors to examine his shoulder.
He is also unsure how often he will be seen around the Busch Stadium when the season gets underway because it’s too difficult for him to watch.
“Mentally, physically it’s difficult to come in everyday to try to believe you’re a part of it when you’re not. I know they’ll say that I am, but when you can’t do anything and can’t compete -- I mean all of those things are taken away from you -- it’s pretty difficult.”
Last season, Carpenter gave up a rib to return to the mound but this time around he has drawn a line where he will stop his comeback.
“I can tell you I’m not going to have surgery again,” Carpenter said.
He has yet to reflect on his career with the Cardinals, but when it’s over he will be considered the greatest competitor the organization has seen since Bob Gibson. The former Cy Young winner has posted a 95-44 record with a 3.07 ERA in nine seasons as a Cardinal.
“I don’t think I’ll ever retire. To be honest with you, I’ll never say that word. There might always be hope -- maybe when I’m like 48 and I can come back and throw some more.”
...and we will welcome him back.