After simulated game, Carp nears season debut

After simulated game, Carp nears season debut

After simulated game, Carp nears season debut
LOS ANGELES -- Chris Carpenter threw 95 pitches in a simulated game on Saturday afternoon at Dodger Stadium. Assuming Carpenter's right arm responds as it should over the next few days, Saturday's session is expected to be the final hurdle Carpenter will cross before making his season debut.

Manager Mike Matheny said an announcement will likely come on Monday about when Carpenter will pitch again. He'd likely slot in Thursday in the series finale against Houston or Friday in a series opener at Wrigley Field.

"All that we've seen so far through this process, as much as you want to concern yourself with caution and be cautious about what I'm going to feel tomorrow when I wake up, I have no concern about what's going to happen," said Carpenter, who is still less than two months removed from undergoing thoracic outlet surgery. "I was really excited about the way I felt."

Carpenter spread the 95 pitches over five "innings" as he simulated various scenarios and faced several of the club's rookie hitters. Matheny said that Carpenter's pitches on Saturday looked good enough to take into a game. He said he was also impressed with the way Carpenter ended the simulated outing.

"There were times later in the outing when it looked like he was throwing the ball better than he was at the beginning," Matheny said. "You could tell that he's feeling stronger each time he goes out. The second-to-last [inning], I asked him if he intentionally kicked it up a notch. He said no. He just felt stronger."

If there is room for improvement, Carpenter said, it's in maintaining firmer body control through his delivery. As for the command and crispness of all his pitches, Carpenter appeared satisfied.

"I've really pushed through this to get to where I need to get to see if I can get back," Carpenter said. "Am I at my peak? No. Do I feel good? Yeah. I feel like my command is good."

Earlier this week, Carpenter had lobbied to skip this simulated game and instead pitch in the Cardinals' Saturday night game against the Dodgers. The organization, however, wanted to stick with its prescribed plan, which included getting Carpenter to a pitch count of at least 90 on the side before having him making a start.