Feb 28, 2012; Jupiter, FL. USA; St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Chris Carpenter (29) delivers a pitch during live batting practice at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-US PRESSWIRE

Chris Carpenter Injury: Cardinals Ace Will Have Surgery, Miss Rest Of 2012

The bad Chris Carpenter injury news continues for the St. Louis Cardinals.

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29 Total Updates since March 10, 2012
  • Important 16
  • Updates 21
  • Articles 8
  • All Updates 29

Chris Carpenter Injury: St. Louis Cardinals Ace's Rehab Delayed Again

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.

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Chris Carpenter Injury: St. Louis Cardinals Ace To Throw Soon

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.

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Chris Carpenter And The St. Louis Cardinals' Rotational Surplus

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.

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Chris Carpenter Injury Update: Nerve Problem Leaves Return Date In Doubt

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:

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:

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MLB Rumors 2012: Roy Oswalt, Still Sitting, Not In St. Louis Cardinals' Post-Carpenter Plans

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:

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Chris Carpenter Injury Update: St. Louis Cardinals Will Open Season With Kyle Lohse

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:

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Chris Carpenter Injury: St. Louis Cardinals Ace Throws BP As Comeback Continues

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:

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Chris Carpenter Injury: St. Louis Cardinals Ace Throws Bullpen Session, Could Pitch Soon

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:

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Lance Lynn Strong In First Rotation Audition For St. Louis Cardinals

The St. Louis Cardinals' rotation looks more stable than ever after Lance Lynn's strong start.

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Chris Carpenter Injury: St. Louis Cardinals Ace Plays Catch; Return Still Uncertain

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.

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Chris Carpenter Injury: Opening Day Start In Doubt For St. Louis Cardinals Ace

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.

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