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:
- Given how strange his career progression has been, it's easy to forget just how much the Cardinals would miss Chris Carpenter.
- But Lance Lynn looked truly impressive in his first shot at stretching out for the sixth starter role.
- The Cardinals have a lot of depth behind Chris Carpenter, but I remain hopeful that they will not be using it.