Cards hope to get Carpenter into rotation by August
ST. LOUIS -- Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter, out since Opening Day in 2007 because of an elbow injury, will begin a rehab assignment on Sunday with hopes of joining the rotation in August.
Carpenter, the 2005 NL Cy Young winner, will begin his rehab stint with Double-A Springfield. The team is hopeful he won't need the full month before joining the staff and anticipate him joining the rotation immediately, rather than working out of the bullpen at first.
Carpenter is starting his rehab at Double-A instead of at a lower level because the organization feels hitters at lower classifications are too free-swinging.
"They swing at anything you throw up there, so you can hardly throw a strike," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "At least at Double-A they start playing the game a little bit.
"He might get hammered there, too, but I think it's a better test."
While the final stage in Carpenter's climb back from reconstructive surgery begins, the team is prescribing two weeks of rest for rehabbing left-hander Mark Mulder.
Mulder had his twice surgically-repaired shoulder examined by a handful of doctors during the week. The team said Saturday the situation would be re-evaluated after the rest period.
The former 20-game winner, who hasn't won a game in nearly 25 months and has had his shoulder surgically-repaired two times, came off the disabled list on June 27 but returned to it on July 10. He strained his shoulder again in his first start since last September on July 9, throwing only 16 pitches in one-third of an inning against the Phillies.
La Russa appeared somewhat hopeful after Friday's 11-7 victory over the Padres, saying Mulder had relayed the opinion of Dr. James Andrews of Birmingham, Ala.
"It was interesting what he said," La Russa said. "So we'll see. Maybe there's still hope."
Right-hander Adam Wainwright, the Opening Day starter in Carpenter's absence, is expected to begin throwing off a mound in the next week or so. He's been sidelined by a ruptured tendon in the middle finger of his pitching hand and could rejoin the rotation in August.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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