Cardinals RHP Chris Carpenter likely out for '13
FEB 05, 2013 1:11p ET
At a news conference Tuesday at Busch Stadium, Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak announced that it would be "highly unlikely" that Carpenter, who turns 38 in April, would pitch in 2013.
Mozeliak confirmed that Carpenter told him last Friday that he was still experiencing pain in his right shoulder and neck as he began to ramp up his throwing workouts in preparation for spring training next week.
While Mozeliak and manager Mike Matheny were in attendance at Tuesday's news conference, Carpenter was not.
"Before (Carpenter) exposed himself to the media, he wanted to have all his ducks in a row," Mozeliak said. "At some point in the future he will make himself available. He just didn't feel he had anything to add. As you can imagine, he's hurting."
Mozeliak stopped short of calling Tuesday's development a retirement for Carpenter, who likely will be placed on the disabled list. If Carpenter were to retire, he would walk away from the $12.5 million owed him in 2013, though the Cardinals and Carpenter also could agree to a settlement.
"Obviously there are financial implications when you bring up that (retirement) word," Mozeliak said, "so at this point he likely will just be put on the DL.
"At some point he will start reflecting on the next chapter of his life. But not today."
Last July, Carpenter underwent major surgery that involved the removal of a rib that had been contributing to compression of nerve tissues between his neck and shoulder. He surprisingly came back to pitch in six games in September and the postseason.
Carpenter had begun throwing again in December. But it wasn't until late January when he began to feel discomfort and decided he needed to shut it down, Mozeliak said.
"I was surprised when he told me," Mozeliak said. "I knew it was plausible (that he wouldn't pitch in 2013) given how much he has dealt with injuries. But to hear it the way we did was certainly shocking."
"The zingers he was experiencing while throwing, and the numbness afterward, that was too much. And then there was some bruising and redness in the shoulder and his hand."
Mozeliak said his conversation with Carpenter was emotional.
"He was sad," Mozeliak said. "I talked to him on the phone and it appeared he was teary-eyed. He felt like to some degree he was letting us down. I assured him that that was anything but the truth and that we were grateful for everything he has done for this organization.
"At that point (Friday) I was still hoping for some resolution on this. But Mike and I talked to him numerous times since then and what he wants is to assure that anything going on with his neck, shoulder and back is going to go back to being normal during his after-career life."
Matheny, too, was shocked by the news.
"He said he was hurting," Matheny said. "He was extremely confident as he had spoken to all of you at the Warm-Up (fan fest) that he was ready and prepared to be a huge part of what we were going to do in 2013.
"Then to have things turn so quickly was tough on him. He has a passion for this game and for this team. It's a lot crashing down on him right now."
Mozeliak said that while Carpenter's absence will be felt, the team will find a way to carry on.
"After you get over the pity party of not having someone you have counted on, you just have to move on," Mozeliak said. "When you think about him and about what he did on the field, he was one of the best. The main thing you're going to lose (now) is his leadership. He was in that role as a cheerleader and a mentor.
"It is our hope that he still comes around and makes himself available (to the team) from time to time."
Both Matheny and Mozeliak pointed to young arms such as Lance Lynn, Trevor Rosenthal, Joe Kelly and Shelby Miller as possible replacements for Carpenter in the rotation.
"I think right now we're comfortable with what we have," Mozeliak said. "Obviously we haven't had a team meeting about this yet. We just heard this news. Right now, both Mike and I feel pretty good about the arms we have."
The loss of Carpenter likely will heat up rumors about the possible signing of free-agent Kyle Lohse.
"Anytime you talk about free-agents, it's not something we discuss publicly," Mozeliak said. "We have confidence in what we have. If something makes sense for us (in free-agency), we'll certainly move forward."
If this is indeed Carpenter's unofficial retirement, he will walk away from the game with a 144-94 regular-season record with a 3.76 ERA — 95 of those wins came with the Cardinals.
Carpenter, who won the 2005 NL Cy Young Award, also will be remembered as one of the best postseason pitchers in history, compiling a 10-4 record with a 3.00 ERA. That included a 3-0 record in the World Series with a 2.00 ERA.
Carpenter also overcame four surgeries on his right elbow, including Tommy John surgery, and two surgeries on his right shoulder — plus last July's surgery.
"When I look back at him," Mozeliak said. "he was as competitive of a player as I've seen. He was one of those guys who truly willed himself to win. When you think about all the injuries he's had through his career, he always found a way to get back on the field and contribute."
Perhaps not this time.
+ SHOW COMMENTS +