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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.