Carpenter holds out hope of pitching in 2013
Cards ace to have numbness, hand discoloration reevaluated while continuing workouts
ST. LOUIS -- Chris Carpenter addressed the media on Monday morning at Busch Stadium for the first time since general manager John Mozeliak announced that it was unlikely the veteran pitcher would be able to pitch during the 2013 season.
Carpenter, 37, seemed at ease when discussing his situation. He's not yet ready to discuss the word "retirement" and offered some hope that he would be able to pitch again while acknowledging he didn't know what was going on with his right arm, hand and shoulder that gave him trouble during a series of three bullpen sessions just two weeks earlier.
"I definitely think that there is a little bit of hope there," he said. "I mean, with everything that's come out, it obviously was news that Mo and the organization and myself wasn't expecting. But it is what it is. I have to figure out what's going on. I think that after all the Spring Training stuff that's going on down there -- with doctors and physicals and those sort of things -- when our physicians get back there, that's when I'm going to go in and get reevaluated and see what's going on ... and make sure there's been no change, that there's nothing else going on in there.
"It's definitely not working the way it should work, and it's not fair to me, it's not fair to my teammates and it's not fair to the organization to go down there and try to make myself think that I'm going to be OK and I'm going to get through it."
Carpenter called Mozeliak two weeks ago, following his third bullpen session of the week, and told him that the symptoms that forced him to miss most of the 2012 season had returned.
The right-hander, who was diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome last year, felt numbness and discomfort in his right shoulder and neck and experienced discoloration in his right hand.
"There were a few different things," Carpenter said. "In the first or second bullpen I threw, my hand ended up turning red and purple, and it was aching a little bit, which I know is probably not a good thing. It had something to do with circulation. From that point going forward, the third one I could definitely tell there was definitely something else going on there. Some of the numbness and tingling was coming back, and the fatigue was coming back.
"Then the one on Friday that I threw, when I ended up calling Mo, I had to quit tricking myself and telling myself that I was OK. I tried to find something positive out of every single throw. I continued to try to trick myself into knowing or feeling that it was going to be all right, but it wasn't. So I came to the conclusion to call him and let him know then before we go down to Spring Training and I try to trick everyone into thinking I'm OK when I'm not."
Mozeliak and manager Mike Matheny met with the media last week to address Carpenter's situation and the club's plans going forward.
"He's probably one of the most competitive players that I have ever been around," Mozeliak told reporters then. "He truly willed himself to want to win. And when you think about all the injuries he went through over his career, he always found a way to get back on the field and contribute in a positive way. I'll always admire that about him."
Carpenter, who will turn 38 on April 27, has dealt with injuries throughout his 15 seasons in the Major Leagues, which included six years with the Toronto Blue Jays and nine with the Cardinals. He was limited to 13 games in 2002 with the Blue Jays, one in 2007 with the Cardinals, four in 2008 and three during the regular season in 2012.
The 2005 National League Cy Young winner, and a first-round Draft pick by the Blue Jays in 1993, is 144-94 with a 3.76 ERA in 2,219 1/3 innings over 350 career games (332 starts). After going 49-50 with a 4.83 ERA in six seasons with Toronto, he is 95-44 with a 3.07 ERA in nine years with the Cardinals.
The New Hampshire native was at his best in the postseason, where he was 10-4 with a 3.00 ERA in 18 games. He was 3-0 with a 2.00 ERA in 27 innings over four starts in his World Series appearances in 2006 and 2011, when he helped the Cardinals win their 10th and 11th world championships.
Carpenter, who said on Monday he has had eight surgeries during his career, said he was excited about the upcoming season, going back out on the mound, proving himself again and trying to help the Cardinals win another championship.
But for now, while his teammates are in Florida for Spring Training, Carpenter is going to stay in the St. Louis area, continue to work out and rest his arm while he and the organization figure out what's next. He said he didn't want to be a distraction to his teammates in Jupiter, Fla., and he's not interested in having another surgery.
"If my arm is what it is like now, at some point in time you have to be like, 'All right, enough's enough,'" Carpenter said. "You can only push it so much. I can't pitch with the way that I feel right now. It's not fair to anyone. I'm going to go ahead and rest it and wait until our guys get back. … We'll just have to see what happens through time.
"I need to make sure that, one, my arm is healthy. The hand thing kind of concerned me a little bit -- because that has to deal with circulation, and we weren't dealing with that before, we were dealing with nerve stuff, and I want to be able to use my arm later on in my life. So we're going to take a step back, we're going to let the guys do what they are doing down there for physicals, and when they get back we'll get together and talk about it."
Carpenter said he hasn't counted out returning to pitch in 2013 and hasn't entertained the thought of retiring.
"I don't think I'll ever retire, to be honest with you, I'll never say that word," he said. "There might always be hope. Maybe when I'm 48 I can come back and do it some more."
Nate Latsch is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.