Feldman: Carpenter takes next big step tonight in Springfield - KMOV.com

Feldman: Carpenter takes next big step tonight in Springfield

News 4's Brian Feldman is in Springfield tonight covering Chris Carpenter's return to the mound.  

(Baseball StL) -- There are still many steps remaining before he can realistically expect to be activated onto the Cardinals 25-man roster, but Chris Carpenter can only tackle one of them at a time. Monday night, he has a big test sitting in front of him.

When the Springfield Cardinals face the Arkansas Travelers at Hammons Field at 7 p.m., the former Cy Young award winner will be on the mound for the first of an undetermined amount of rehab starts.

How he does tonight will go a long way in figuring out just how reasonable it is to expect his return to the St. Louis Cardinals rotation. He’ll throw around 60 pitches tonight, presumably bumping that up to 80 next time out and 100 the time after that - should his arm recover well.  

That’s not so dissimilar to a spring training regimen.

Unlike spring training, I have little doubt Carpenter will expect to see results. Usually in Grapefruit League play the starting pitchers don’t really care about getting guys out. They just want to work on their stuff and make sure everything is where it needs to be.

Not Carpenter.

He - and I would imagine the Cards front office - is going to want to see himself get guys out before believing he’s good enough to pitch in a big league playoff rotation.

A lot is riding on Carpenter’s return to St. Louis. As things stand right now, Lance Lynn is scuffling and the team obviously prefers Joe Kelly coming out of the bullpen. GM John Mozeliak might - key word: might - be able to swing a trade for a starting pitcher. But not two.

Getting the former Cy Young award winner back on the mound would be a tremendous boost from a performance standpoint but also from a leadership one as well. Sure, his presence was felt in the dugout while on the disabled list but there’s just something different about being on the active roster and contributing.

It’s still not a sure bet that he’ll pass all the remaining tests and actually returns to the Cardinals.  But you can only pass one test at a time. And tonight is the next one.

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