Cardinals major league notebook: 03/11/12

St. Louis Cardinals fans are holding their collective breath that the bulging cervical disc in Chris Carpenter's neck is not serious.



Right-hander Chris Carpenter, the Cardinals' prospective Opening Day starter, was being held back a bit this spring anyway after his 273-inning load of the year before.

But he then was pushed back even more because of persistent neck discomfort.

After seeing specialists in Jupiter, Fla., Carpenter said he would remain in pitching limbo until the team's medical staff has a clearer read on the source of his discomfort.

General manager John Mozeliak confirmed that results of nerve testing were being sent to St. Louis for further evaluation. Mozeliak said there were no plans for Carpenter to return to St. Louis for additional tests.

Carpenter said that his discomfort rose following a two-inning, 30-pitch live batting practice session against Cardinals hitters on March 3. He said his discomfort had decreased but that he and team had agreed that his program should be suspended until a diagnosis was made.

"With the time we have left in camp, it's best to wait until the rest of the reevaluation is done," Carpenter said. "I don't think anybody wants me to get back out there (until more is known), not just me."

Carpenter has dealt periodically with nerve issues for much of his time with the Cardinals, most recently in August 2008.

"We have to be patient and understand that it may take a few days before we determine what the future looks like," Mozeliak said.

Manager Mike Matheny told reporters not to read too much into it. "I understand you guys ( the media) talk about panicking; that's what you guys do," Matheny said.

"The job we have around here is not allowing anyone else to do the same thing until it's warranted. Right now, everything is just research. We can't, at least I don't, know what initiated it."

The 36-year-old Carpenter, even if he missed another week, still likely would have three exhibition starts to get ready for the April 4 opener at Miami. For the moment, highly touted right-hander Shelby Miller, the club's top draft pick in 2009, is taking Carpenter's turn.

If Carpenter, or anybody else, would be sidelined for any length of time, right-hander Kyle McClellan could step out of the bullpen as he did last spring when he wound up spending the first two-thirds of the season in the rotation.


OF Carlos Beltran was limited to DH duties early in the spring because of shoulder stiffness which was not believed to be serious. The Cardinals had two long trips during the first week of exhibition games and Beltran missed both.

RHP Adam Wainwright, pitching for the first time since 2010 after missing last year because of Tommy John elbow surgery, fanned two, including Joe Mauer, in two hitless, shutout innings against the Minnesota Twins. He was throwing in the low 90s with regularity.

1B Matt Adams, voted the outstanding player in the Class AA Texas League last year, knocked in seven of the Cardinals' first 15 runs this spring as he served as the designated hitter. Adams hit a grand slam and a three-run triple and showed the ability to hit the ball to the opposite field. "I've got a simple swing," Adams said. "I try to keep it that way … just be short and quick to the ball."

Manager Mike Matheny gave many of the Cardinals' young players some early game action before sending them back to the minor league complex. Hard-throwing RHP Tyrell Jenkins, 19, pitched a scoreless inning against Washington, and 2B Kolten Wong, the top pick last year, delivered a key sacrifice fly in Matheny's first managerial win.

LHP Jaime Garcia, who struggled last spring before coming on late in March, had a dominant first Grapefruit League appearance, striking out four Boston Red Sox in two innings. "All I'm worried about is getting better each day and being ready for opening day," said Garcia, who fanned CF Jacoby Ellsbury and 2B Dustin Pedroia in succession to start the game.

2B Tyler Greene was playing well in the field, notably in pivoting double plays where he can use his strong arm, and was reaching base often via hit or walk. So far, the position seems to be his to lose.

Gold Glove CF Jim Edmonds became the latest former Cardinals star to join the camp as an instructor. Edmonds also has showed some interest in some front-office possibility. "I've always wanted to help," Edmonds said. "I just never know how much of the day-to-day process would be on the field or off the field. You never know what you're getting into until you take that step."

BY THE NUMBERS: 4 - Number of batters fanned by RHP Adam Ottavino in his first spring inning. One of the batters reached base on a wild pitch.


QUOTE TO NOTE: "Nobody wants to come out here and stand around just to put on the uniform. That's not my thing. The guys seemed to listen and want to be helped. If they don't, I'll know this isn't my gig."


- Former Gold Glove CF Jim Edmonds, on his first exposure in Cardinals camp as an instructor.




Projected Rotation:

1. RHP Chris Carpenter

2. RHP Adam Wainwright

3. LHP Jaime Garcia

4. RHP Kyle Lohse

5. RHP Jake Westbrook


The return of Wainwright, a year removed from elbow surgery, should made a good rotation even stronger. Garcia, who has won in double figures twice in his first two full seasons, might be ready for a breakthrough year if he can avoid being distracted during games.


But if Wainwright is right, the Cardinals had the two aces (Wainwright, Carpenter) with which they figured they would start last season.

Projected Bullpen (pick seven):

RHP Jason Motte (closer)

RHP Fernando Salas

RHP Lance Lynn

RHP Kyle McClellan

RHP Eduardo Sanchez

LHP Marc Rzepczynski

LHP J.C. Romero

RHP Mitchell Boggs


Motte, a late-season success as a closer, will be the Cardinals' ninth inning man at the start of the season. Salas, who had 24 saves last year, will be a reliable setup man but the club is hoping to find another veteran to help in late innings.


Lynn, a postseason success, might begin the season at Class AAA Memphis if the club envisions him as a starter. Rzepczynski is a versatile left-hander who can also retire right-handed hitters and doesn't have to be employed only in situational roles.

Projected Lineup:

1. SS Rafael Furcal

2. RF Carlos Beltran

3. LF Matt Holliday

4. 1B Lance Berkman

5. 3B David Freese

6. CF Jon Jay

7. C Yadier Molina

8. 2B Daniel Descalso


Newcomer Beltran could hit second, third or fifth, although new manager Mike Matheny seems inclined to have Holliday bat third. When OF-1B Allen Craig (knee surgery) returns in early May, if not before, Beltran could move to center field against left-handed pitching.

Top Rookies:

RHP Shelby Miller may be on the fast track to the majors. The 21-year-old Miller, who throws in the mid-90s, was a combined 11-6 at Class A Quad Cities and Class AA Springfield last year. He is fewer than three years removed from being the club's top pick in the 2009 draft. Also to be watched is 24-year-old Erik Komatsu, a Rule 5 pick from Washington. Komatsu, a left-handed-hitting outfielder, hit a combined .277 in the Milwaukee and Washington systems last year.

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