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St. Louis Cardinals starter Chris Carpenter underwent successful thoracic outlet surgery on Thursday in Dallas, Texas, and in the next few days he will begin a two-to-three month rehabilitation process, according to an update from the Cardinals' official team website. The 37-year-old veteran pitcher is entering the final year of his deal with the Cardinals in 2012-13, in which he is slated to make $10.5 million.
Here is what Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak told the team website after the procedure:
"We are pleased with today's results and Chris will soon return to St. Louis to begin his rehab," said Cardinals Sr. Vice President/General Manager John Mozeliak. "We look forward to seeing Chris around the ballpark during his recovery."
On Thursday, St. Louis Cardinals starter Chris Carpenter is scheduled to undergo season-ending surgery in Dallas to address the thoracic outlet syndrome-related issues in his shoulder that have plagued him all season long. The news comes via Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch who reported in the notes of his recent column that Carpenter's surgery is scheduled for Thursday.
If all goes well with the procedure, his rehabilitation is expected to take at least six months, which means the 37-year-old hurler has a long road back to fulfill the final year of his deal with the Cardinals in 2012-13. He is slated to make $10.5 million next season.
Injured Cardinals starter Chris Carpenter is going to have surgery on his shoulder in order to address the thoracic outlet syndrome-related issues that have been bothering him for months. The surgery ends any possibility of a return to the Cardinals during the 2012 season.
Surgery to alleviate Carpenter's thoracic outlet syndrome is now considered a necessity, whether or not he pitched this season. Given the halting pace of his return from a condition that has plagued him since spring training, Carpenter has opted to seek the procedure sooner than later in order to optimize his chances of pitching next February. A date for the surgery has not been announced.
Typical rehab time for this procedure is six months.
The saga of injured St. Louis Cardinals starter Chris Carpenter took another wild turn on Thursday, when he was diagnosed by a Dallas specialist with "thoracic outlet syndrome." The rare syndrome explains the chronic shoulder weakness that Carpenter has experienced since spring training, and though it can be fixed through surgery, the Cardinals are still hoping to avoid that step until at least the offseason.
St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Chris Carpenter suffered a setback in his recovery from a nerve problem that has caused weakness in his right shoulder, as he was shut down again by the team on Monday after experiencing shoulder weakness from throwing a live batting practice session two days earlier. Tom Green of MLB.com is reporting St. Louis will rest Carpenter at least until Friday, at which point they will re-evaluate the situation and decide on the next step in his rehab process.
Manager Mike Matheny didn't exactly sound sure of what went wrong or what will happen next, either:
"He just didn't feel strong, so we're waiting until we get back home," manager Mike Matheny said. "There isn't a big rush. ... We've been doing that from Day 1 -- seeing how it feels each time before jumping right into another live session. Take a little more time and get back home."
"That's the whole thing about this, we really don't have anything to go off of," Matheny said. "There really isn't any history anywhere to tell us where he should be and what he should do, how much time he should take in between [throwing]. ... That's why we've been so careful with him.
The St. Louis Cardinals have had trouble all year establishing a timeline on Chris Carpenter's injury—a nerve problem that has caused weakness in his shoulder since Spring Training—and Derrick Goold reported Monday for the Post-Dispatch that the longtime anchor of the rotation is dealing with yet more shoulder weakness after a session with live hitters two days before.
That means the timeline has moved again, and the Cardinals' rotation, buoyed to date by the unlikely performance of Lance Lynn, continues to lack a pitcher who finished among the league leaders in innings pitched each of the last two seasons. Without him the Cardinals have turned to Joe Kelly in the wake of a significant Jaime Garcia injury; that's worked so far, but it serves to illustrate how little depth the Cardinals have behind him without Carp to rely on.
The Cardinals have offered no word yet as to a new timeline for Carpenter's recovery—and at this point, that's probably for the best. We should see a new estimate for his return before the All-Star break, for whatever it's now worth.
Carpenter, still less than two weeks from returning to the mound, said that he prefers to downplay the possibility but acknowledged that early indications are overwhelming positive. After staying off the mound for three months while strengthening a problematic right shoulder through rest and rehabilitation, Carpenter has worked three side sessions since Wednesday. He mixed in breaking balls in his second session last weekend and added to his workout Monday prior to a high school all-star game played at Busch Stadium.
Related: How Good Is Joe Kelly's Sinker?
According to Joe Strauss, Carpenter could be throwing pitches to live hitters as early as this weekend. The team is still unable to offer a specific timeline for Carpenter's return.
With the NL Central finally becoming competitive, the St. Louis Cardinals could use all the help that they can get. The team received a bit of good news on that front on Monday, when starter Chris Carpenter revealed that he expects to begin throwing off a mound this week as rehab from a shoulder injury continues to progress. Carpenter has been sidelined since March, when he stopped throwing due to general shoulder weakness that made it difficult for him to lift his right arm above his head.
There is no concrete timetable for Carpenter's return, but he did tell reporters that his level of readiness at the moment is around where it would be at the start of spring training. The Cardinals are two games back of first in the NL Central, and recently put starter Jaime Garcia on the DL.
For once, Joe Strauss of the Post-Dispatch—seemingly their designated correspondent for player injuries, locker-room squabbling, Twitter feuds, and bad tidings—had good news to report Sunday morning, writing that Chris Carpenter, the St. Louis Cardinals' longtime ace, would begin throwing soon, with his eye still on a return after the All-Star Break. (Unnamed sources indicate his heart grew three sizes that day, at least until someone asked him about sabermetrics in his next chat session.)
Carpenter's shoulder is apparently sound, but after suffering from a nerve problem that's precluded throwing for months he won't be ready to start at the major-league level until after a round of arm-strengthening that, if Strauss's math is any indication, could take up to two months.
That's a long time to be without a pitcher who led the National League in innings pitched in the regular season and went on to throw 36 innings more in a postseason that solidified his standing as an all-time Cardinals great. In the meantime the Cardinals will likely continue to rely on Lance Lynn, who's emerged as a crucial piece of the rotation in his unintentional return from the bullpen.
Chris Carpenter's injury leaves the St. Louis Cardinals with some pretty good problems to have. Just don't stare at him, he doesn't like that.
St. Louis Cardinals starter Chris Carpenter is still experiencing pain in his shoulder, though the discomfort has lessened. This week, he will undergo another battery of tests in an effort to determine the next step in his recovery.
According to St. Louis GM John Mozeliak, there is no timetable for when Carpenter might be able to begin a throwing program.
Carpenter must get a positive result on these results before he can begin a throwing program, which could be a week or more away. Mozeliak said there's no timetable now for the throwing program because of the steps that must be taken before then.
He agreed that Carpenter will have to go through a spring training-like regimen to build up arm strength and stamina before he can return to the rotation.
The St. Louis Cardinals' rotation just got a little worse: Chris Carpenter's injury, originally just a persistent case of neck stiffness, is now an uncertain, sobering nerve problem. Here's the early word from B.J. Rains:
Official release says Chris Carpenter, "has nerve irritation that has led to weakness in his right shoulder." No timetable on return...— B.J. Rains (@BJRains) March 23, 2012
Carpenter, whom the Cardinals only recently counted out for opening day, now seems set to miss significantly more time—the team is no more ambivalent about his return date than they were earlier, but today's news is worse than what the Cardinals got earlier this week.
With Carpenter out of the rotation indefinitely the Cardinals' dispatching of Lance Lynn—a set-up man last year—to the starting rotation grows ever more important, as does a newly svelte Jake Westbrook's hypothetical bounceback season. Here are some other options, already batted around on SB Nation St. Louis:
When the St. Louis Cardinals got the news that Chris Carpenter's neck injury would cause him to miss opening day, it was reasonable to expect that their mid-winter flirtation with Roy Oswalt—nearly consummated, as MLB rumor would have it—would return to the forefront of their rotation plans. Reasonable and apparently inaccurate—the Cardinals have suggested they'll be filling the position internally, with Lance Lynn, and Roy Oswalt's agent says he probably won't pitch before June.
Oswalt's some kind of upgrade on Lynn, but then Oswalt's inability to find a major league job in December was never about his ability—it was about his price, and his limited flexibility about teams. He's willing to wait things out, and apparently Carpenter's injury wasn't enough to upset the equilibrium on either side.
If Carpenter suffers another setback that could change, but for now the former Houston Astros ace appears content to follow the Roger Clemens career path. Which, to be honest, didn't work out really well the last time Roger Clemens tried it. (And he was Roger Clemens.)
More St. Louis Cardinals coverage from SB Nation St. Louis:
For a while it looked like the St. Louis Cardinals had dodged their first Spring Training bullet, as ace Chris Carpenter resumed throwing following a Grapefruit League start spent primarily dealing with a bulging disc that was causing neck stiffness. Unfortunately, it wasn't long before the stiffness returned; now the Cardinals ace has been sent back to St. Louis pending further examination. The Opening Day start that was supposed to go to him will now fall to Kyle Lohse, who was 14-8 with an ERA of 3.39 last year after two seasons in the wilderness. (Adam Wainwright will start the home opener, later that week.)
Carpenter had been remarkably healthy, over the last two years, for a 37-year-old pitcher who's three times missed nearly entire seasons with serious arm problems. After he led baseball in innings pitched with 270 between the regular and post-seasons, it was hard to be too surprised when this latest problem cropped up.
The Cardinals have not yet speculated as to his eventual return.
More Cardinals rotation updates, hand-picked from the concerned Carpenter fans at SB Nation St. Louis:
St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Chris Carpenter won't be starting on Opening Day this season after a setback occurred in his recovery from a bulging disk in his neck, as the Associated Press reported via ESPN. The pitcher returned to St. Louis on Tuesday to take tests.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny spoke on the issue, noting that Carpenter just hasn't made the progress that was hoped for:
He looked really good and felt good; the next day he just didn't respond like we had hoped. His shoulder is just not responding and they're uncertain of the root of it. That's what they're trying to get to with tests on the neck and shoulder and trying to figure out where it's all coming from.
In place of Carpenter, Kyle Lohse will be starting on Opening Day in a April 4 match-up with the Miami Marlins. The 37-year-old Carpenter pitched 273 innings between the regular season and the playoffs last year, more than any other pitcher in professional baseball.
According to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, after throwing a live batting practice session on Sunday, Chris Carpenter alerted St. Louis Cardinals management on Monday that he's still feeling discomfort in his neck and upper arm associated with the bulging disk that has plagued him for most of the spring. The Cardinals subsequently cancelled the live BP session that he was scheduled to throw on Wednesday, and he has returned to St. Louis where he will be examined further by specialists.
Carpenter has suffered multiple setbacks this spring as he's gotten closer to making his first Grapefruit League appearance, and though Cardinals officials were initially relieved that Carpenter has no nerve damage in his neck, another setback obviously has to be cause for concern. Carpenter, who threw the most innings in the National League last year, will continue to be replaced in the rotation by converted (at least temporarily) reliever Lance Lynn, except now it looks likely that the situation will stretch into the regular season.
The St. Louis Cardinals might not have to replace Chris Carpenter to start the season after all. Their longtime ace threw 40 pitches' worth of batting practice Sunday—captured here on video—for the first time since a bulging disc in his neck sidelined him at the start of the Cardinals' Grapefruit League season. The odd diagnosis—it was originally just "neck stiffness"—might have made this pseudo-injury a little more ominous than it's turned out to be, but if he's back in April I think Cardinals fans will be fine with having been frightened by it.
Last year Carpenter finished a tough regular season 11-9 with an ERA of 3.45, but his shutout in Game 5 of the NLDS, in which he outdueled Roy Halladay, is what fans will remember. In his postseason career with the Cardinals Carpenter is now 9-2, with an ERA of 3.05.
More Chris Carpenter coverage, handpicked from SB Nation St. Louis:
The St. Louis Cardinals have been preparing Lance Lynn for the sixth starter job ever since Chris Carpenter came down with a weirdly persistent case of neck stiffness that turned into a slipped disc, but if his Friday bullpen session is any indication the team’s contingency plans could prove unnecessary—after a week of worrying whether he’d be ready for Opening Day it looks like Carp could yet make an appearance in the Grapefruit League.
So let Lance Lynn down gently; break the news to Roy Oswalt’s agent; and put your article about the Cardinals’ cursed aces, doomed never to pitch in the same rotation again, on the back burner: it looks like Chris Carpenter might start the season healthy (for the third year in a row!) after all.
Here’s more about the Cardinals’ rotation and the questions surrounding it from SB Nation St. Louis:
The St. Louis Cardinals' rotation looks more stable than ever after Lance Lynn's strong start.
The St. Louis Cardinals got to see longtime ace Chris Carpenter throw Wednesday, but it wasn't quite so high-intensity as they might have hoped this late in spring training: He was playing catch, and, all things considered, feeling pretty good about it. It came the same day as Lance Lynn's strongest claim yet to his nebulous sixth-starter role—he struck out three in as many scoreless innings, going 40 pitches for the first time since last June after a summer spent mostly in relief.
With Lynn—and top prospect Shelby Miller lurking behind him—the Cardinals have the depth to weather an absent April from Carpenter, but with Jake Westbrook already shaky at the back of the major league rotation they have plenty of incentive to hope for his rapid return.
The Cardinals won't know more about Chris Carpenter for a few days, but with no setbacks since the initial problems it seems like he's progressing on track—the only question is where that track is supposed to lead.
Chris Carpenter's neck problems could put his Opening Day start in doubt, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, putting the injury-prone ace's April availability in doubt for the first time since his nearly flawless comeback in 2009. Carpenter's condition—finally diagnosed as a bulging disc after a few days in doubt—has been a source of confusion since last week, and this latest revelation is the first time either organization or pitcher has suggested concretely that it might have an effect on his regular season.
In the meantime, the Cardinals will look to Lance Lynn—who struck out 10 batters per nine innings last year in an abbreviated MLB debut, mostly as a reliever—as their sixth starter; he'll be in Kyle McClellan's old role, stretched out in March to, if all goes according to plan, sit around in the bullpen in April.
Carpenter led the National League in innings pitched last year, and, while he was at it, led baseball in postseason innings pitched. It was a strange return to innings-eating for a pitcher who was, between 2007 and 2009, the most fragile starter in the rotation.
While it's unclear at this point whether St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Chris Carpenter will be healthy enough to pitch on Opening Day, Cardinals GM John Mozeliak told MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch that the team is preparing alternative options now.
Preparations are beginning to be made, though, in case Carpenter isn't ready to go in early April. Mozeliak said that the club has plans to begin stretching another pitcher out this week. He did not identify who that pitcher would be, noting that he wanted to first make sure that the individual has been notified of the organization's new plans.
Right now, St. Louis has four different relievers with significant past experience in the starting rotation: Marc Rzepczynski, Lance Lynn, Kyle McClellan and Mitchell Boggs. Any of those guys could potentially shift back to starting in order to replace Carpenter in the short-term.
Langosch also speculates that Brandon Dickson, a 27-year-old that posted a 3.95 ERA in 25 Triple-A starts last year, or Shelby Miller, one of the best prospects in the sport, could emerge as a possibility.
St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter has been bothered by a neck problem for about a week, and there had been some concerns within the Cardinals organization that the injury might involve nerve damage. It was worrisome enough that Carpenter set up an appointment with specialists to examine the ailment. On Saturday night, the Post-Dispatch's Joe Strauss posted an encouraging update on the situation:
While u wait: Carpenter diagnosed w/bulging cervical disc. Not nearly as bad as nerve damage. Club yet to decide when he resumes throwing.— Joe Strauss (@JoeStrauss) March 11, 2012
The discomfort first started following a two inning, 30-pitch live batting session on March 3, according to Carpenter.
The St. Louis Cardinals are left dealing with a new Chris Carpenter injury: This time, whatever caused his stiff neck.
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