Chris Carpenter Will Likely Miss Season

By Daniel J.

After 15 seasons as a major league starter, Chris Carpenter’s storied career might be over.

On Tuesday, the St. Louis Cardinals reported the nerve injury that kept Carpenter out of most of last season had returned and that Carpenter will likely miss all of 2013 as well. Although no official retirement has been announced, things do not look promising for the 37-year old right-hander.

“He’s leaving the door slightly open, but it’s unlikely,” Cardinals GM John Mozeliak said during a press conference, according to ESPN.com.

The heavy-hearted Carpenter did not appear at the press conference to make the announcement himself, making it clear that although he plans to seek out another medical evaluation, even he believes this is probably the end of the road.

He re-discovered the injury after throwing off of the mound of Friday, as he experienced numbness in his right arm and saw bruising begin to appear on his shoulder on hand. That’s when he made the call to Mozeliak.

“After speaking with him on the phone you certainly get a sense that he’s more concerned about life after baseball,” Mozeliak said.

Carpenter was integral to the Cardinals' World Series wins in 2006 and 2011

Losing Carpenter will obviously be a huge blow to the Cardinals. Although he did not perform up to his own standard during last season’s playoffs, he was instrumental in the team’s World Series wins in 2006 and 2011, even winning the championship-clinching game seven in 2011 against Texas on only three days of rest.

Carpenter enjoyed his individual best season in 2005, in which he won the NL Cy Young Award, posting a 21-5 record and an ERA of 2.83. He amassed 144 total career wins, 10 of those coming the playoffs. However, it wasn’t just his incredible numbers that made him a great player and a great teammate.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever witnessed a better competitor than Chris, and also leader,” said Mike Matheny, a former catcher and teammate of Carpenter’s before his current role as manager.

Carpenter will certainly go down in history as one of the great all-time Cardinals, but he could have been even greater if his career hadn’t been hampered by several injury-shortened seasons. Shoulder, elbow and nerve problems caused him to miss most of 2002, 2007, 2008, all of 2003 and all but three starts last season.

With Carpenter out indefinitely, the Cardinals have some big cleats to fill right before training camp begins. At the moment, the rotation consists of Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn and Jake Westbrook, with the two other spots expected to be filled by younger pitchers stepping out of the bullpen, or possible free agent signings.

“As we head into spring now there’s certainly a void there, but there’s also an opportunity,” Matheny said. “We have to have some other guys step up.”

Although the Cardinals are expected to have a strong squad again this season, their World Series chances have to have taken a hit with Carpenter being out, even if it doesn’t affect their futures odds, which are currently at 20/1. It may be too early to tell, but Carpenter’s injury could be a sign that the aging Cardinals’ run as an NL power is over as well.