Carpenter throwing for first time since Tommy John surgery

Updated: January 19, 2008, 5:47 PM ET
Associated Press

ST. LOUIS -- Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter is throwing again and feeling good as he works his way back from Tommy John surgery.

"I just started tossing on Monday," Carpenter said Saturday at the 12th annual Cardinals Winter Warm-Up. "I haven't had any problems so far. I haven't had any soreness, but I know it's still going to be a long process."

Carpenter
Carpenter

Carpenter, who underwent surgery in July on the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, said his early routine consists of about 25 to 30 throws from 60 feet. He said he is trying hard not to overdo anything.

"Everything so far is good," Carpenter said. "The shoulder feels strong and the elbow feels good. It's been fun so far."

Carpenter, the 2005 National League Cy Young Award winner, was scheduled to meet with team physician George Paletta on Sunday before returning to Florida on Monday to continue his rehabilitation program.

The elbow surgery ended a frustrating year for Carpenter, whose only appearance in 2007 was an opening-day loss to the New York Mets. The right-hander allowed five runs in six innings, and reported elbow stiffness and swelling the following day.

Carpenter had surgery in May to remove bone spurs. He was on a rehab assignment with Class A Palm Beach when he developed swelling and stiffness, and had elbow surgery on July 24.

The operation usually requires 10 to 12 months of rehabilitation.

There's no rigid timetable for when Carpenter will return to the rotation, but he probably won't be back until the All-Star break.

"I've got a long way to go," he said. "I'm not going to force myself and look ahead to see when that time is going to be. Hopefully, down the road in a few months, I'll have a better idea."

Carpenter said he talked to other pitchers about what to expect as he tries to recover.

"They told me to step back and not push it," Carpenter said. "I've really gone into this all winter concentrating on making sure my shoulder is strong because Pat Hentgen told me when he went through this his elbow never bothered him but his shoulder got sore because he didn't pay attention to it. Patience is a key so I'm taking that approach."

Carpenter is one of the Cardinals' unanswered rotation questions heading into this season. Joel Pineiro, Adam Wainwright and Braden Looper are all in, but the other starting spots remain in flux.

Free-agent acquisition Matt Clement missed last season while recovering from shoulder surgery. Mark Mulder may not be ready for opening day after a second rotator cuff operation in September. Stand-in starters Todd Wellemeyer and Brad Thompson remain other options.

Carpenter was 3-1 in five postseason starts in 2006. He threw eight scoreless innings against Detroit in Game 3 of the World Series, helping St. Louis win its first world championship in 24 years. In 2004-2006, Carpenter went 51-18 with a 3.10 ERA in 93 starts for the Cardinals.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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