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Carpenter throwing for first time since Tommy John surgery

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, 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.