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News » Cards get encouraging news on Carpenter but want a backup plan

Cards get encouraging news on Carpenter but want a backup plan

Cards get encouraging news on Carpenter but want a backup plan
Even after calling the results of Chris Carpenter's checkup "positive" and detailing a plan to have the ace ready for spring training, Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak has a succinct priority at the winter meetings.

"We're going to focus on pitching," he said.

Carpenter had a nerve conduction test Thursday in St. Louis and Mozeliak was given a detailed presentation of the results Friday. He said Carpenter's problematic nerve in his right shoulder has shown signs of normal healing and the righthander's shoulder strength has returned to "almost the level" he had before his troubles.

Mozeliak said Carpenter is scheduled to begin a throwing program by mid- to late January, and that would put him on target for a normal spring training.

As encouraging as the reports were Friday, Mozeliak said it's the addition of shortstop Khalil Greene on Thursday that shifted the winter shopping list. Mozeliak plans to look at a way to address or strengthen the back end of the Cardinals' bullpen, which now includes a vacancy at closer. He added that he intends to wade into the market for starting pitching.

"I understand after what happened last season (there is) some doubt about the credibility of will Carpenter be ready or not," Mozeliak said. "My belief is he will be. ... Still, there is an old axiom that you can never have enough pitching, and we need to keep that in mind."

Mozeliak said adding a second baseman is not as pressing since the acquisition of Greene and with the tricky time he's had fulfilling Adam Kennedy's trade request. The Cardinals have explored trading for a second baseman, like Atlanta's Kelly Johnson. But Mozeliak is reluctant to swallow Kennedy's $4 million salary in this chilly market. Mozeliak does see the possibility of Kennedy coming to spring training as the starter. Kennedy told the Post-Dispatch that he "would have no problem coming back if I knew I was going to get a fair shot at starting. I just want to play."

Carpenter, limited by injury to 15 1/3 innings in 2008, had a nerve in his elbow relocated in early November, a procedure related to the Tommy John surgery that cost him most of the past two seasons. That repair has been successful, but it's the nerve condition in his shoulder that's viewed as the larger concern. The compression of the nerve led to muscle strains, soreness and weakness on the back of the shoulder.

The Cardinals are using Carpenter's recovery from nerve trouble in his biceps late in the 2004 season as a guide for his return this offseason. He will have another test performed before starting spring training in February.

The tests assured the Cardinals that throwing will "not lead to any setbacks" for Carpenter, Mozeliak said.

Baseball's winter meetings begin Monday in Las Vegas, and Mozeliak said he plans to be "patient and opportunistic" for a deal on another starting pitcher or ninth-inning answer.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: December 6, 2008

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