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Carpenter woes continue with more discomfortPosted Wednesday, March 21, 2012, at 9:49 AM
By COREY NOLES
The St. Louis Post Dispatch reported this morning that Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter has been sent back to St. Louis.
Carpenter reportedly suffered "renewed" discomfort after throwing over the weekend.
After I wrote last week's column about Carpenter, actually before it ever left the building, it appeared that he was making strides toward improvement. This morning things seem to be less optimistic.
The general assumption has been that Lance Lynn would take some starts in his place if he was going to miss some time, but I'm not sure that's the answer.
If we're talking about one or two starts, maybe, but otherwise, they need to look at other routes.
Carpenter is undergoing many tests and hopefully within the next day or so we'll have a more definitive answer as to the problem. One theory involves the bulging disc, but due to the nature of his pain and weakness, others are questioning further nerve issues.
There are several routes the team could take and the jury is still out on which one I would recommend.
A potential Kyle McClellan trade has been discussed most of the winter, but could be a more important move now because it opens up several avenues.
First, it could bring in another bullpen arm to hopefully replace Lynn, assuming he winds up in the rotation.
Second, it would free up more money for a free agent signing, like Roy Oswalt.
Third, it might make possible some type of proverbial player juggling that we don't know anything about yet.
Obviously, the hope is that whatever Carp's injury is, it will be short lived and the bulldog will get back to work quickly.
However, if not, I think the free agent route might be the best option. None of the team's young pitching prospects are quite ready yet. There's no reason to rush those guys.
While I do have issues with throwing too much money at back problems (Oswalt), it's only for one year. That year, is one where he is looking to prove himself. He wants to show the world that he is healthy and deserves a longer contract.
This team has traditionally done well in those late career gambles: Tino Martinez, Larry Walker, Will Clark, Lance Berkman. Maybe they wouldn't have the same luck with Oswalt, but maybe they would.
Even if Oswalt is not the answer for the Cards, I think the answer to this predicament may lie outside of the organization. If Carpenter's injury turns out to be one that requires an extended break, the team will simply have to make a move.
A report this morning listed Kyle Lohse as the likely Opening Day starter, with GM John Mozeliak all but guaranteeing Carp will not be throwing in early April. While a Lohse start might seem a bit odd, it should be remembered that he led the team in wins last year and in Spring Training, well, he's had a few impressive outings and is re-working some pitches that could make a more vital tool than many believe.
Another injury that could mean a problem for the team is that of Skip Schumaker. Skip's torn oblique leaves them short a guy who can backup the outfield or middle-infield on a moment's notice. The Schumaker injury likely means one of the young bats in Spring Training will make an appearance in St. Louis.
Amid all of the crummy news there is one fantastic tidbit to keep in mind - Today is two weeks from the Cardinals season opener. Welcome back, baseball.
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Corey Noles, staff writer for The Daily Statesman and Editor of The North Stoddard Countian, is the author of a regular baseball/St. Louis Cardinals column and also uses his blog to sound off on various happenings in sports. He also operates a weekly baseball mailbag column.
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