NEW YORK (AP) - The suddenly slumping Cardinals, trying to stay
in contention in the NL Central, expect to get a boost from within
just before the trade deadline.
Chris Carpenter, out since opening day 2007 because of an elbow
injury, is scheduled to return to the St. Louis rotation Wednesday
against Atlanta, manager Tony La Russa said Saturday.
The 2005 NL Cy Young Award winner, who had reconstructive elbow
surgery last July, gave up two runs in 5 2-3 innings in his second
rehab start Friday night for Triple-A Memphis. He is scheduled to
throw a side session in St. Louis on Sunday and, if all goes well,
make his first start of the season against the Braves.
"About the best news we've had," said La Russa, whose team was
mired in a five-game skid entering Saturday night's game against
the New York Mets. "I don't know that you can give me something
that comes close to it."
Carpenter has thrown several simulated games at the club's
spring training complex in Florida, and looked strong in tossing
four scoreless innings for Double-A Springfield last Sunday. His
command improved with Memphis, where he threw 53 of his 78 pitches
La Russa said he has no expectations for the right-hander and
won't necessarily have him on a pitch count when he returns.
"What he needs to concentrate on is the day he pitches," La
Russa said. "We're going to watch him. When he starts struggling
we'll get him out."
Young right-hander Mitchell Boggs struggled again Friday night
against the Mets and will likely lose his spot in the rotation when
Carpenter rejoins the team.
His return can't come soon enough for a pitching staff that has
been decimated by injuries.
Adam Wainwright, the opening-day starter in Carpenter's absence,
hasn't pitched since June 7 because of a ruptured tendon in the
middle finger of his pitching hand. He's also expected back in the
rotation in August.
Former 20-game winner Mark Mulder, who is still trying to come
back from two shoulder operations and struggled in three
appearances with St. Louis this season, has been shut down for at
least two weeks. His chances of making it back this season are
Earlier Saturday, the Cardinals traded former starter Anthony
Reyes to the Cleveland Indians for minor league reliever Luis
Reyes held Detroit to four hits in eight-plus innings to win the
World Series opener two years ago, and for a while was considered
the club's top pitching prospect. But he's struggled with
consistency and has spent much of the season in the minors.