Monday, February 11, 2013

Former Cy Young winner Chris Carpenter may be forced to retire

Former Cy Young and two-time World Series champion winner Chris Carpenter may have to retire due to nerve damage in his hand. The 37-year-old St. Louis Cardinal pitcher is almost certain to miss the upcoming 2013 MLB season and he may not be able to return to the mound at all. John Mozeliak, the Cardinals’ general manager, said Carpenter is still suffering from the same problem that saw him miss the majority of last season, but he hasn’t retired and will also be seeking additional medical opinions.

However, according to Mozeliak the future doesn’t look too bright for the star pitcher and feels that it’s unlikely he’ll return. Carpenter’s started his career with the Toronto Blue Jays back in 1997 and he has a career record of 144-94 along with an ERA of 3.76. He left the Blue Jays after six seasons and has spent nine more with the Cardinals. Carpenter had an excellent season in 2005 by going 21-5 with an ERA of 2.83 and that performance earned him the Cy Young Award. He almost won the honor a second time after a 17-4 season in 2009 with an ERA of 2.24, but came in second place in the voting.

Carpenter has pitched just as well in the postseason by starting 18 games for St. Louis and posting a record of 10-4 with an ERA of 3.00. He pitched in game seven of the 2011 World Series on three days’ rest against the Texas Rangers and earned the win. But even though Carpenter’s numbers have been exceptional, they could have been even better if he hadn’t suffered so many injuries to his elbow and shoulder.

These injuries forced him to sit out most of the 2002, 2007, 2008, and 2012 seasons while he was sidelined for the entire 2003 campaign. He managed just three starts last year. Carpenter told Mozeliak that he recently tried to pitch, but was having problems with his old nerve injury which causes his hand and shoulder to bruise and his right arm to go numb. The injury first became a problem for him in spring training last year and he hasn’t been able to solve it.

The pitcher tried everything possible to fix the problem and even underwent an operation to remove one of his ribs last summer. The surgery appeared to have been successful and Carpenter returned to the team and pitched three games late in the season to help the Cardinals clinch the NL’s last wild card berth. He then pitched against Washington during the division series before going 0-2 against San Francisco in the NL championship showdown.

Mozeliak said Carpenter was one of the best pitchers he’s ever seen, but more than that, he was also somebody who worked as hard as possible. Carpenter is scheduled to make $12.5 million this season with $2 million of it being is deferred. He said he was looking forward to pitching again in 2013, but after throwing from a mound several times during the offseason he came to the conclusion that he couldn’t do it.

The Cardinals may now decide to sign free agent Kyle Lohse, who went 16-3 with them in 2012 and had an ERA 2.86 while pitching 211 innings. With numbers like those, you’d think it would be a no-brainer, but he’s still currently unsigned. As for Carpenter, it’s still possible that some type of cure can be found for his arm problem, but it’s probably a long shot at this point.

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