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  • Cards hitters say this Carpenter is "electric"

    Enjoy.

    Cards hitters say this Carpenter is "electric"
    By Dan O'Neill
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    02/27/2004


    JUPITER, Fla. - It was one day a few weeks ago, one phenomenal day. Chris Carpenter began throwing a baseball, throwing it extremely hard, making it dip and move. He was throwing to college kids near his home in Exeter, N.H., when he started throwing stuff college kids don't normally see. The kind of stuff big-leaguers are made of, the kind of stuff that gets big-leaguers out.

    "I could get out and throw that ball down and away to righties, which is the toughest pitch to throw," Carpenter said. "My location was there, my breaking ball was back to normal, and my changeup was back to normal, which meant I was getting out in front and letting it go. Yeah, there was one day when I knew that I was going to be OK.

    "I came home and my wife said, 'How did it feel?' And I said it feels great. I started whooping and hollering. It was at home, so I didn't have to control myself. It was the first time in however long it's been that I felt like I did (three) years ago."

    Pitching has been the topic of conversation in the NL Central. The Chicago Cubs rode a talented young staff to the playoffs last season, then upped the ante by adding Greg Maddux this winter. They are picked to win the division. The Houston Astros added insult to injury when they signed Roger Clemens on the coattails of Andy Pettitte. Now baseball fever is putting football on the backburner in Texas - not easily done.

    Most experts feel the arms race has left the local nine in the also-run dust. In the shadow of the prominent brewhaus on Pestalozzi, there is no joy in Sudsville.

    But as a new season incubates in the Florida sun, it's possible the most important addition to the Cardinals pitching picture was already on the payroll. A healthy Carpenter represents a potential trump card, a bona fide ace in the hole.

    After facing Carpenter in a batting practice session on Thursday, Greg Vaughn said, "The guy is electric." Vaughn is a veteran of 15 big-league seasons and 355 big-league home runs. He is hoping to earn an outfield assignment with the club this spring. But if he had to make an impression batting against Carpenter, he would have a hard way to go.

    "If he's healthy, he's going to help any big-league team," Vaughn said. "I faced him a number of times in the American League and he's right back where he was."

    Maybe he's even better. Carpenter won 42 games for the Toronto Blue Jays from 1998 to 2001. But in 2002, he was limited to 13 starts before his season ended with surgery to repair his right shoulder. The Cardinals signed Carpenter during the winter meetings in 2002, hoping he would pitch by midseason in 2003.

    But after eight months of rehab, and an aborted attempt to pitch, he was back at square one. He had additional surgery in late July and was out for the season. The adversity has been the most demanding period of his still-young baseball life. Carpenter spent an entire season in a new clubhouse, awkwardly trying to fit in off the field while never participating on the field.

    "One, I didn't know a whole lot of people, being with a new team," Carpenter, 28, said. "Two, I hadn't done anything. And three, I'm stealing money for doing nothing in a new organization. It was tough. No matter what people think, it's tough for players in that position, to get paid the amount of money we get paid and not be able to contribute.

    "Besides my family, this is the most important thing in my life. And being able to compete, every five days, to try to win is what it's all about."

    Fortunately, support from his teammates and the most important person in his life helped keep him sane. His wife, Alyson, was his high school sweetheart. She has been on this baseball ride from the outset, knows what it means to her husband, knows what to say. "She's been there for me the whole time and continued to push me," Carpenter said. "She knows if I didn't play I would drive her more nuts."

    Fifteen months ago, the couple welcomed their first child, Sam. Babies keep you as busy as you like, and keep your perspective perfectly clear. "He's taken up a lot of our time," Carpenter said. "We've been able to forget about a lot of the stuff affecting us on the field."

    Then came that day when it was OK to remember, that day when everything felt right. And now exists the distinct possibility that there is a silver lining. All the strength and conditioning work Carpenter has done the past two years might do more than bring him back; it might will propel him to another level.

    "Unfortunately, I had to have something like this happen to make me realize you have to work to stay healthy, to keep something like this from happening," Carpenter said. "I've never done as many shoulder exercises, I've never worked out as hard as I have for the past two years. All I've been able to do is work out and get my arm strong.

    "Plus, being as mentally low as you can be, committing to work as hard as you can work to get back to where we're at, makes you mentally tougher. It matures you 1,000 times. Now, I'm going to make sure I'm going to get all my work done, no matter how long it takes. I don't cut myself short of anything I have to do."

    So, if you want to hitch your wagon to Chris Carpenter, bring it on. If you want to suggest he is the X factor that elevates this otherwise capable staff to a contending one, go ahead. The challenge is something Carpenter embraces and failure is something he disdains.

    "Nobody is going to put more pressure on himself than me," he said. "The bottom line is, taking on that role, it doesn't matter to me. Because I know if I can go out and do my job every day, in between starts and every fifth day, the success is going to be there."

    Vaughn, Reggie Sanders, Ray Lankford and John Mabry stood in while Carpenter fired darts last Thursday. Rarely did the overmatched make solid contract.

    If all goes according to plan, soon it will be a game that counts in Busch Stadium, not batting practice in Florida. Carpenter will stride from the dugout, climb a mound of dirt he is so eager to climb and pitch for fans who have never seen him pitch. It will be like that one day a few weeks ago, one day long in the making, one glorious day.

    "For one thing, I'm going to be proud of myself, from where I was to where I'm at now and to be back out there, I'm going to feel good about what I've done," Carpenter said. "And I'm going to feel good to finally pitch for this team and this organization. I'm really looking forward to it. It's going to be awesome."

  • #2
    Jebus.

    He sounds like a #1 in that story. Hope its true. We need starting pitching like Rosie needs a makeover.
    Go Cards ...12 in 13.


    Comment


    • #3
      Vaughn, Reggie Sanders, Ray Lankford and John Mabry stood in while Carpenter fired darts last Thursday. Rarely did the overmatched make solid contract.
      Ahhhhh....we might need just a LITTLE more confirmation than that....

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by ReggieCleveland@Feb 28 2004, 09:18 AM
        Vaughn, Reggie Sanders, Ray Lankford and John Mabry stood in while Carpenter fired darts last Thursday. Rarely did the overmatched make solid contract.
        Ahhhhh....we might need just a LITTLE more confirmation than that....


        Well, at least Sanders is bonafide major leaguer.
        Go Cards ...12 in 13.


        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by ReggieCleveland@Feb 28 2004, 09:18 AM
          Vaughn, Reggie Sanders, Ray Lankford and John Mabry stood in while Carpenter fired darts last Thursday. Rarely did the overmatched make solid contract.
          Ahhhhh....we might need just a LITTLE more confirmation than that....
          Agreed, Reggie. This column is one of the usual Kool-aid articles they push out before every season.

          I remember the one last year about Tino having worked out all offseason and was poised for a "big season".

          I usually give these columns the same weight as we gave the Iraqi Information Director during his speeches.
          “I’ve always stated, ‘I’m a Missouri Tiger,’” Anderson said March 13 after Arkansas fired John Pelphrey, adding, “I’m excited about what’s taking place here.”

          Asked then if he would talk to his players about the situation, he said, “They know me, and that’s where the trust comes in.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Razzy@Feb 28 2004, 09:21 AM
            I usually give these columns the same weight as we gave the Iraqi Information Director during his speeches.
            Because after all, a report that dared express optimism about the 2004 Cardinals must be wrong.

            Comment


            • #7
              I think Carpenter could be the real deal though, I liked him when he was with the Jays.
              Are you on the list?

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by kah2523+Feb 28 2004, 09:34 AM-->
                QUOTE(kah2523 @ Feb 28 2004, 09:34 AM)

              • #9
                I can easily find preseason puff pieces about Alan Benes, Ankiel, and others.
                And, frankly, it has never occured to me that "winning" a debate is important, or that I should be hurt when someone like Airshark or kah, among others (for whom winning a pseudo debate or declaring intellectual superiority over invisible others is obviously very important) ridicule me.

                -The Artist formerly known as King in KC

                Comment


                • #10
                  Originally posted by Damtoft@Feb 28 2004, 10:06 AM
                  I can easily find preseason puff pieces about Alan Benes, Ankiel, and others.
                  Please publish them JD.

                  You know some of us need our kool-aid fix to start the season.

                  Go Cards!
                  Sponsor of Alex Pieterangelo.

                  ..."I spent a lot of money on booze, birds and fast cars. The rest I just squandered." George Best

                  Comment


                  • #11
                    This is a third place team on paper.

                    However, they don't play the game on paper. They play it on grass and dirt with balls and bats.

                    I'll enjoy the optimism of spring training and a new season for as long as I can. This year...that may be April 30th.

                    There was little reason to be optimistic about the Cards chances in the spring of 1985...yet they won 101 games after starting slowly.

                    A guy named Vince Coleman came out of nowhere. A slightly above average pitcher named Tudor had a career year. Career years were had by Andujar and Danny Cox as well. Bruce Sutter had departed and the bullpen was suspect until Dayley, Lahti emerged and Worrell came up from the farm.

                    Van Slyke and Pendleton were kids. Jack Clark was coming off an injury. I could go on.

                    We did have Whitey though... :(
                    Go Cards ...12 in 13.


                    Comment


                    • #12
                      So if he throws a slider and he's electric....I'll let the rest of you put this lame joke together.
                      If you believe in something sacrifice a hobo to it or don't bother.

                      Comment


                      • #13
                        I for one see the logic in what they tried to do with their pitching this year. It can work if Morris and Williams make 30-35 starts each and pitch at their 2001-May 2003 levels. But Williams having a sore arm right now doesn't make that prospect very encouraging.

                        Comment


                        • #14
                          >>Williams having a sore arm right now doesn't make that prospect very encouraging<<

                          Their lies don't help much either.
                          And, frankly, it has never occured to me that "winning" a debate is important, or that I should be hurt when someone like Airshark or kah, among others (for whom winning a pseudo debate or declaring intellectual superiority over invisible others is obviously very important) ridicule me.

                          -The Artist formerly known as King in KC

                          Comment


                          • #15
                            Has anyone in the Cardinal organization mentioned what if any parameters they will put on him as far as pitch counts ...maybe an extra days rest if needed, etc..??

                            I would think even if he would be healthy all season that asking for anything close to 200-innings would be alot if not risky for his longterm..

                            Memory doesn't serve anyone missing two years with a serious arm injury and bouncing back to win 15-games and pitching 200-innings..

                            I think 10-12 wins and 170-innings would be terrific all things considered.

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