ST. LOUIS -- Chris Carpenter and Rafael Furcal may be out for the season due to injury, but both made a point of being at Busch Stadium -- in uniform -- to participate in the Cardinals' home opener festivities.
Carpenter received the loudest ovation of the afternoon when he was introduced during the pregame ceremony. He shook the hands of the club's six living Hall of Famers and then gave manager Mike Matheny a hug. Though Carpenter made a one-week stop in Jupiter, Fla., during Spring Training, this marked the first time since the 2012 postseason that he had put on his uniform.
With retirement likely for the 37-year-old right-hander after the season, he braced for the strong possibility that this would be the last time he'd be chauffeured into the stadium by vehicle on Opening Day. He had to stop throwing in early February due to recurring symptoms related to thoracic outlet syndrome.
Because Carpenter lives in the St. Louis area, the Cardinals are hopeful that he'll be a regular clubhouse presence during home games. The club has opened that invitation to Furcal, too, though the shortstop said during Spring Training that he planned to do much of his rehab near his home in Miami. Furcal underwent season-ending elbow surgery last month.
"It's a tough situation to have these guys in here when they know that they can't really do what they want to do on the field," Matheny said. "But we make it available to them and we tell them they bring value. Any way we can have them around, we'll take them. We've made that known to Raffy and hopefully he takes us up on that because he brings an energy to this clubhouse and onto the field and into the dugout that not too many people can do."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.