On Sunday night, Matt Carpenter followed his St. Louis Cardinals teammate Brandon Moss to Springfield start his rehab assignment.
Carpenter, who is rehabbing back from a right oblique strain, made his debut at second base for the S-Cards against the NW Arkansas Naturals (KC). The National League All-Star third baseman went 1-for-2 with single, walk, and strikeout to open his rehab. He was pulled in the fifth inning as part of a designed plan ease him back into game action.
The former Springbird will be in Springfield through Wednesday. The plan is to progress from five innings Friday to seven innings Saturday and ramp up to full games by Tuesday and Wednesday. If everything goes according to plan, Carpenter will meet with the major-league club in St. Louis for his activation Friday.
Carpenter last appeared in big-league action on July 6, leaving the game with an injury. An MRI later revealed a Grade 2 strain of his right oblique. At the time, the left-handed hitter led the NL with a .420 on-base percentage and ranked second in the league with a .988 OPS. Per Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com, he was on pace to become the first leadoff hitter in Major League history with more than 100 RBIs in a season.
Below is a transcript from Carpenter's media session conducted before Sunday night’s game. In the presser, Moss details the rehab process, the plan going forward, and much more.
Media Member: Talk about being here and the game plan for the next couple of days.
Matt Carpenter: "I feel great. We've gotten to a point in the progression of this injury will I feel like I can start to play. That starts tonight. The plan is I'll be here until Wednesday, and I'll play five innings tonight, seven tomorrow, and nine and nine.
"I'm excited. Ready to get going."
MM: If all goes according to plan, do you still anticipate being activated on Friday?
MC: "Yeah, thankfully and hopefully everything goes as planned. I'll meet the team back in St. Louis and be ready to go Friday."
MM: What are you going to work on here - is it a matter of timing? Give us a feel of what you're working on.
MC: "I think more than anything with this injury; an oblique injury. I'm just trying to get out here and feel good from a physical standpoint. Timing and all that sort of stuff is going to come when I start playing. I'm not coming here to work on anything specific baseball-wise.
"More than anything, I'm just trying to get healthy. I feel confident that I am healthy. That's probably the biggest thing."
MM: It has been a long time since you've been here. Does it look familiar?
MC: "It brings back memories. I loved my time here; playing here was great. The fans were awesome. We had a good team and a lot of guys I played with made it to the big-leagues. Not only off that team, but in this league.
"It was a lot of good memories and fun to be back."
MM: What about your thoughts about the team and trade deadline? They picked up a pitcher today. You're thoughts as the team moves towards August and September?
MC: "I like where we are. We are at the start of a really good road-trip; we just took two out of three in New York and played well in Miami. We're headed to Cincinnati to finish up this road trip. I think we made a move today that helps our bullpen.
"I'm excited about this group. We're going to have a really good month of August and a really good month of September. Hopefully another postseason berth."
MM: How difficult is rehab mentally? I'm sure you are chomping at the bit to get back playing. You have a process you have to go through. Talk about that process.
MC: "It's tough, but it is a part of the process. Certainly, I would like to be back right now, but you do have to come and get ready. It's all for your good. Sometimes, it seems you wish you could just jump right into it.
"This is a good thing coming down here and getting some swings in and working through some of that stiffness you might still feel. I'm excited, and hopefully, it goes well."
MM: Do you feel you want to try to recapture - right after the baby was born - that you were just on fire. Do you feel that way again and feel that way when you were in the box?
MC: "Yeah, I think so. Hitting - a lot of its mental and where you are mentally. I feel like I'm in a good spot; I have a good plan. I feel mentally that I'm in a good spot. Hopefully, I come back and pick up in the same spot that I left off. Time will tell.
"I'm going to prepare the next four days and be ready to go on Friday."
MM: Could you talk about the addition of Zach Duke and what he brings to the Cardinals bullpen?
MC: "It's a great addition for us. He's having a great year. Lefty, who can get lefty and righties out. He's really come into his own with the kind of a pitcher that he's become. It one of the best seasons he's ever had.
"We're catching him at a hot time, and hopefully, he'll be able to continue the streak he's on and pitch well for us down the road in meaningful games. I think it was a good move."
MM: The injury happened right before the All-Star game. Tell us about your feelings about missing the Mid-Summer Classic.
MC: "Certainly, I was upset about that. I would have loved to play in the game. I still went and enjoyed the festivities. My family and I had a great time down in San Diego, so it was still great to be a part of that.
"Obviously, I would have liked to play. The timing just didn't work out. These things happen; injuries happen and I'm just glad it wasn't anything worse than what it was. I'm getting an opportunity to come back today, but I'm just excited about it."
MM: What are the advantages of being in Springfield to do this rehab?
MC: "First of all, the location of it is great. My wife and I hopped in the car and drove down this morning. That makes it easy on us. A lot of guys coming out of Double-A end up playing in the big-leagues. The talent will be great. I'll have the opportunity to face great players; I'm assuming.
"I love my time here so much. Like I said, it does bring memories coming back here to Springfield. Probably some same fans that watched me played here and will watch me tonight. That's fun."
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