ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals expect Chris Carpenter to return from the disabled list on Wednesday and start that evening's game against the Cubs. Carpenter has been out since April 14 due to a strained left oblique muscle. "I'm always excited about going out and competing," Carpenter said on Sunday morning. "That's what this is all about. That's what this game's about, and that's what pitching's about -- going out there and competing at this level, and I enjoy doing it. I'm looking forward to Wednesday night." The 2005 Cy Young Award winner threw four simulated innings on Friday, followed by a bullpen session on Sunday morning. The club finally decided to pull the trigger on starting Carpenter after the Sunday session.
"You add a great player, you add a great pitcher, it makes your club better," manager Tony La Russa said. "We're asking a lot of him, to jump right in there. The Cubs are a tough club, and next week he'll face Milwaukee. Those are tough assignments. But I think if he stays healthy, sometime soon he'll be sharp, and it will be a lift." The Cardinals had hoped to hold Carpenter out until next weekend. However, a rainout on Friday and subsequent makeup day on Monday forced their hand, as the club lost an off-day and had to go to a fifth starter sooner than expected. Kyle Lohse, who started Friday's game before it was washed out in the second inning, will pitch in the makeup game on Monday against Milwaukee. Joel Pineiro will take his scheduled turn on Tuesday at home in the series opener against the Cubs, with Carpenter pitching for the first time in 36 days on Wednesday. In addition to throwing, Carpenter has begun taking some swings in the batting cage, and reported that that has gone well also. Carpenter injured himself swinging the bat, rather than pitching. "My side feels fine," he said. "I can tell you one thing: I'm not going to go up there and be an automatic out, because that's not fair to my club. It's not fair to let the other side know that I'm not going to be swinging the bat. I'm going to be ready to go up and put a swing on the ball and try to do something. Am I a good hitter? No. But you can run into one [and] get a base hit. So I'm not going to go up there and just sit there." In two starts this year, Carpenter is 1-0 an hasn't allowed an earned run. He amassed nine strikeouts against two walks in 10 innings of two games. In his absence, rookies P.J. Walters and Mitchell Boggs have both taken turns in the starting rotation.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.