As the result of continuing discomfort in his neck, shoulder, and ribs, St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Chris Carpenter informed the club that he will be unable to pitch in 2013. General manager John Mozeliak and manager Mike Matheny made the announcement at Busch Stadium on Tuesday.
The club’s three-time All-Star, 2005 National League Cy Young Award winner and two-time World Champion told the GM last week that as he began his throwing program for 2013, there was a return of the discomfort, numbness and swelling that he experienced last year. Matheny called the news "a kick in the gut."
Though Carpenter, 37, had an injury-checkered career, he was the workhorse of the 2011 World Champions. After several months of a lack of clarity about his condition in 2012, Carpenter was diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome. He underwent what was originally announced as season-ending surgery last July to remove a rib and displace nerves. Beating expectations, Carpenter returned to the active roster in September, but lacked his usual effectiveness.
“I don’t know if I have ever witnessed a better competitor or leader than Chris," Matheny said. "He is a real throwback in the game and commanded respect with how he went about his business and treated people.”
With the pitchers and catchers mandatory report date in just six days, Carpenter, who will turn 37 in April, wanted to ensure the club understood his situation and could plan accordingly. Mozeliak explained that the organization is comfortable with the players already on the roster and would not comment about free agent Kyle Lohse.
As Lance Lynn is already penciled into the rotation to replace Lohse, the young starters who will be given a greater opportunity to step up include Shelby Miller, Joe Kelly and Trevor Rosenthal. The club also has injury concerns with returnee Jaime Garcia.
While Carpenter has not officially announced his retirement, his career may very well be over.
The GM made Carpenter’s readjusted priorities clear. "He wants to make sure whatever is going on in his neck and arm is not going to preclude him from a normal life," Mozeliak said.
Carrying a $12.5 million contract this season, the final year of a two-year extension signed in September 2011, Carpenter is likely to be placed on the disabled list, Mozeliak said.
From there, Carpenter can consider his life after baseball, a most successful stint that included a 144-94 record over 15 regular seasons and a 10-4 record in 18 postseason starts.
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Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.
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