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:
- It's hard to remember just how much the Cardinals will be missing if they spend significant time without Carp.
- Lance Lynn, his young replacement in the rotation, combines cheap and effective in an ideal way for a sixth starter.
- Which is why the Cardinals will stay in-house instead of chasing Roy Oswalt.