C. Carpenter pleased with his Friday workout

C. Carpenter pleased with his Friday workout

C. Carpenter pleased with his Friday workout
KANSAS CITY -- Several hours before the Cardinals opened a series against the Royals, Chris Carpenter took the Kauffman Stadium mound to complete the next step in his recovery from a right shoulder injury.

Five different hitters stood in the batters' box as Carpenter threw about 32 pitches. The live batting practice session marked the first time Carpenter had thrown to hitters since March 18. He was shut down immediately after that Spring Training session due to a nerve issue that limited his shoulder strength.

"I was happy with it," Carpenter said after Friday's work. "I was excited about being out there. I was probably overthrowing at times. The command wasn't exactly what I wished it would be, but I also have to understand that it's my first throw to hitters in three months."

Carpenter approached the live batting practice session with a more specific focus than most pitchers do early in Spring Training. Instead of predetermining what types of pitches he would throw to each batter, Carpenter approached hitters as he would in a game at-bat.

As he simulated game situations, Carpenter mixed in both fastballs and breaking pitches. Taking such a pointed approach will, Carpenter hopes, expedite the rehab process.

"Because of the time of the year, you're going to analyze it a little bit more and hope for more," Carpenter said. "You want to cut whatever you can out to get back as soon as you can."

Manager Mike Matheny and pitching coach Derek Lilliquist were among those who observed the session.

"I just thought he looked very comfortable on the mound," Matheny said. "His offspeed [stuff] had a good bite to it. He was smooth with his delivery. I thought all in all, he looked good."

Carpenter will repeat the exercise on Monday, after which the organization will determine what's next in his rehab schedule. There's a chance that, following that session, Carpenter will be cleared to begin a Minor League rehab assignment. If that's the case, Carpenter's recovery would be moving into the final phase by the end of the month.

Carpenter, as well as Matheny, would not speculate that far ahead. They also haven't set -- at least publicly -- a minimum number of Minor League appearances that Carpenter would need before rejoining the Cardinals.

"I'm hoping I can throw Monday and everything is good and we can move from there," Carpenter said. "But that's not my call. I don't want to get ahead of the whole thing because I don't want to get let down."

Carpenter, who has had no setbacks since resuming a throwing program earlier this month, reiterated that his strength continues to test at the level it did before this injury. The process now is intended to increase endurance and further refine the right-hander's pitches.