Results tagged ‘ Chris Carpenter ’

Friday lineup and early tidbits

Still awaiting a Tigers lineup.

A few early tidbits, prior to our morning session with TLR:
* Chris Carpenter is scheduled to throw live batting practice at 10:15 a.m. ET. The hitters who will face him are Bryan Anderson, Tony Cruz, Adron Chambers and Pete Kozma. 
* Mitchell Boggs is listed as a backup-available pitcher today. He’s on the card, but on a separate line from the guys who are slated to pitch.
* Justine Siegal, whom you’ve likely read a good bit about at this point, will be throwing batting practice to David Freese, Skip Schumaker and Ryan Theriot this morning.
* Lance Berkman is back in, as DH.
And now the lineup:
1. Theriot SS
2. Craig RF
3. Pujols 1B
4. Holliday LF
5. Berkman DH
6. Freese 3B
7. Rasmus CF
8. Molina C
9. Schumaker 2B
Lynn P
-M.

Wednesday camp tidbits: Optimism (for a change)

A day after Chris Carpenter and Mitchell Boggs got hurt, there seems to be optimism regarding both, and particularly Carpenter.

* I talked to Carpenter this morning and he seemed to be moving around just fine. He said he feels better than yesterday. It sounds like he’s likely to miss one or possibly two starts. 
* Did not get a chance to talk to Boggs yet, but TLR sounded optimistic on him as well. I think it’s safe to say that Boggs’ situation is a little less clear than Carpenter’s at this point, but obviously I’ll continue to chase it. We’ll have a story on the site updating both of them soon, and more depth on the situation later in the day.
* David Freese will make his game debut Monday against the Twins in Fort Myers. The official line continues to be that he’s coming along very well. Freese could pinch-hit in the interim.
* No starter has been named for Sunday’s game, which would be Carpenter’s next game.
* TLR expressed little urgency for getting Lance Lynn a start. Lynn will get his innings, but it does not seem to be a priority for him to start a game.
* The manager also said he didn’t do anything special with his lineup against knuckleballer R.A. Dickey. He noted that most players will only get one at-bat anyway.
* It appears that Matt Holliday will make the trip to Port St. Lucie tomorrow, while Lance Berkman and Albert Pujols will play in the home game.
And, finally, the playlist:
Jeff Buckley, “Eternal Life”
Garbage, “Vow”
The White Stripes, “The Hardest Button to Button”
Foo Fighters, “Monkey Wrench”
Rage Against the Machine, “Guerilla Radio”
-M.

Carpenter, Boggs injured

An already trying spring for the Cardinals took another distressing turn on Tuesday when former two pitchers were removed from the team’s Grapefruit League game against the Marlins due to injuries.
Former Cy Young winner Chris Carpenter was pulled in the third inning due to a strained left hamstring, while reliever Mitchell Boggs came out an inning later with a lower back strain.
Carpenter had breezed through 2 2/3 innings with scarcely a hiccup before he walked Marlins outfielder Chris Coghlan. After the final pitch of Coghlan’s plate appearance, Carpenter walked off the mound and head athletic trainer Greg Hauck came out to check on him. With virtually no delay, Carpenter headed for the dugout.
Boggs came in to replace Carpenter and received an extended warm-up time because of the injury. Boggs struck out Donnie Murphy to end the inning. Carpenter was tended to in the dugout for the remainder of the inning, then left for the Cardinals’ clubhouse with Hauck.
With one out in the fourth and an 0-2 count to John Buck, Boggs pulled up in distress, reaching for his lower back. He was also removed without throwing another pitch, replaced by left-hander Brian Tallet.
Already this spring, the Cardinals have lost co-ace Adam Wainwright to season-ending elbow injury and infielder Nick Punto for 2-3 months due to a sports hernia. Drew Baur, one of the central members of the team’s ownership group, passed away on Feb. 20.
-M.

Chess Match: One more from the big man

The situation: Top of the eighth, Cardinals lead, 4-1. 8-9-1 spots in the Reds order coming up. Chris Carpenter has thrown 104 pitches, 34 of them in his previous inning, in chich he hit a batter and allowed three hits but escaped with one run.
The decision: TLR and Dave Duncan go for one more inning with their ace.
The outcome: Carpenter pitches a tidy 1-2-3 eighth on eight pitches. Kyle McClellan pitches the ninth in similar fashion to finish off the win.
The analysis: In general, at least in recent years, the Cardinals work to protect their starters — especially early in the year. The seventh was truly a slog for Carpenter, who was saved in a big way when Jay Bruce’s hot shot hit Scott Rolen as Rolen was running from first to second. Even the outs were difficult, with one long at-bat after another.
The factor at play in this case was the bullpen, though that’s not what TLR pointed to after the game. He spoke as though it was all about Carpenter, but with a fully fresh and rested bullpen, it’s just hard to imagine that Carpenter would have pitched the eighth.
In this case, though, Ryan Franklin wasn’t fully available. He was in prefer-not-to-use mode after pitching two innings the night before (a separate question, it must be noted). They likewise preferred to be hands-off with Mitchell Boggs, who had pitched two in a row and five out of seven, and Blake Hawksworth is probably not the choice in a close game in the late innings right now.
So they had McClellan and Jason Motte, and ideally, that was it. Carpenter was a factor, and La Russa essentially said he believed that Carpenter would straighten things back out for the eighth. But I really have to believe that if Franklin and McClellan were both fully available, it would have been a different story.
Moreover, and don’t discount this factor, Carpenter and Adam Wainwright really need to be eating innings for this team right now. With Kyle Lohse and Brad Penny both out, the Cardinals will be hoping to get seven, eight or nine from their two aces every time one of them takes the mound. A push they might not make with a fully healthy rotation, they may well make right now.
The comment: “If this had been our first year with [Carpenter], we probably would have [taken him out]. But once you know, he comes in that dugout and he’s thinking about what was wrong there and he’s not real happy. So he’s going to go out there and fix something. So he gets three outs. Carp, as long as he was physically OK, he’s earned those outs.” — TLR
My verdict: This one made me a little nervous. It seems to me that in June, Carpenter should still be in handle-carefully mode. But riding him through the eighth is an indication of the value they placed on this game. Series-deciding game, ace had pitched seven strong, something of a statement game in some ways.
I’d have gotten Carpenter out, I think, and found someone like Motte or even one of the lefties to face 8-9-1. I think it’s more consistent with what they’ve done thus far, and consistent with a long-term view that sees the starting rotation as the biggest key to this team’s October hopes. 
It’s not a travesty by any means, and I see the thought process. But my inclination is still to protect Carpenter at this point in the year, if you can.
-M.

Stats of the day, May 28

No note of the night today, so I apologize for that. As usual, to make it up, let’s squeeze in a few different stats of the day.

Stat of the Day 1: The Cardinals are 95-41 when Chris Carpenter starts for them, a .698 winning percentage — equivalent to a 113-49 regular season. Over that same span, since the start of the 2004 season, they’re 476-408 when anyone else starts for them — a .538 winning percentage, equivalent to an 87-75 regular season.
Stat of the Day 2: Ryan Ludwick is 3-for-33 with four walks, 11 strikeouts and no extra-base hits when he leads off an inning this year: a line of .091/.189/.091. In all bases-empty situations, he’s at a better but still dismal .208/.270/.358. With runners in scoring position, though, he’s at .417/.512/.778. 

Stat of the Day 3: Jason Motte has 15 strikeouts and one walk over his last 12 appearances, spanning 11 innings.

Fun with double situational splits: Brendan Ryan is batting .353 with a .450 on-base percentage and a .529 slugging percentage in day games against left-handed pitchers.

And, finally, the playlist:
It’s a Chicago special, leading with Kanye’s outstanding new track.
Kanye West, “Power”
Ministry, “N.W.O.”
Rise Against, “Long Forgotten Sons”
Smashing Pumpkins, “Bodies”
My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult, “After The Flesh”
-M.

Note of the night/Stat of the day, May 23

Note of the night: As TLR went through his postgame news conference on Sunday, fielding questions and singling out heroes, he responded to a question about his relief corps and started to add an answer to a question that hadn’t been asked yet. Then he decided to wait.

The next question was mine, about his starting pitcher on the afternoon. It turns out, that was the question that the manager was waiting for. What’s odd is that he was waiting to sing Chris Carpenter’s praises, when I was asking because I didn’t think Carpenter didn’t look sharp at all.
To my eye, and according to Gameday, Carpenter’s location just wasn’t very good. He was consistently in the top half of the strike zone, and that simply isn’t where he operates. That’s not Carpenter’s style. So it was strange to hear both manager and pitcher with such a different take.
“I really felt that the ball was coming out of his hand outstanding,” La Russa said. “He had a couple 0-2 misses and they capitalized. And their catcher takes the ball on the outside black and hits it out, that’s great hitting. He pitched around a couple errors. I really thought that Carp had good stuff and located, made a lot of pitches, kept us in the game.
“Overall, I really thought the ball was coming out of his hand very well.”
And here’s what Carpenter said, a comment I also noted in the game story: “Interesting enough, it really was the best I’ve felt all year. I made a couple bad pitches for the homers, but I felt like my stuff was good. I felt like my cutter was better. my command was better. it was a nice win for us and I was happy with the way I felt. … I felt like I was locating well.”
So, honestly, what do you do with that? If the Cardinals had lost the game, I was committed to a story all about how they need Carpenter and Wainwright more than ever, and Carpenter just didn’t have his command on Sunday. Would have been a tough story to write, given the quotes.
What did y’all think, then? Was he overall sharp and just hurt by a couple mistakes? Or was he missing his spots on a consistent basis?
This is one of the challenges all of us sometimes face. Our own observations sometimes clash with those of the players/coaches/managers. Sometimes I re-assess after hearing the comments. Sometimes I soften it a little bit, because someone’s comment casts something in a different light that I hadn’t thought of.
But sometimes, like today, I come back up and I still disagree. I just didn’t find Carpenter to have looked all that sharp. His velocity was good. His stuff was good. But his location did not look good.
Stat of the day: The Cardinals lead the league in bullpen ERA at 2.92 and are tied for the fewest blown saves with three.
Fun with double situational splits: Six of Albert Pujols’ eight home runs this year have come against right-handers on the road.
And, finally, the playlist:
Ride, “Vapour Trail”
Stone Roses, “I Wanna Be Adored”
Charlatans UK, “The Only One I Know”
Catherine Wheel, “Black Metallic”
Jesus and Mary Chain, “Just Like Honey”
-M.

Note of the night/Stat of the day, May 14

Note of the night: I had a long and interesting chat with Chris Carpenter this afternoon about a lot of things, and Joe Strauss was there for a good bit of it as well. Some of it is covered in this story over at the main site

In that story, Carpenter relates that he thinks his results have been maybe better than people are giving him credit for, but also acknowledges that it hasn’t been easy to get those results. He had what I thought was a really interesting quote about expectations, and how he welcomes them even if they’re unreasonable.
Carpenter also talked about his health some. He said that as far as his shoulder, he’s doing better than this time last year, and feeling great about where he is. But he revealed something I found very interesting. He said that he still, routinely, feels tingling and numbness in his hand and arm as a result of the nerve issues that plagued him in 2004 and 2008.
“It’s a constant battle,” he said. “It’s a constant battle to keep it strong. It’s a constant battle to adjust the program to keep it firing properly. But as far as all last year and this year, yesterday was the best I’ve felt [pitching] for a long time. It’s an ongoing process to continue. Everybody knew coming into last season, we didn’t know what to expect or what was going on. We all chose the route that we thought was the best for me and that was not having surgery.”
Carpenter emphasized that he notices odd sensations routinely — waking up in the morning, things like that. And made a point that it doesn’t affect him at all when he pitches. By way of example, he noted that the condition isn’t really any different this year than it was last year, when he obviously pitched brilliantly all year.
Stat of the day: Cardinals starting pitchers, as a group, are averaging 14.9 pitches per inning pitched. An individual starter with that mark would rank 11th-best in the National League. Adam Wainwright ranks first in the NL, Brad Penny is second, Carpenter is 11th and Jaime Garcia is 14th. The closest team is the Marlins at 15.6.
Fun with double situational splits: Colby Rasmus has been unstoppable in night games on the road — which happens to be what Saturday’s game will be. In away night games, Rasmus is batting .432 with a .542 on-base percentage and an .811 slugging percentage.

And, finally, the playlist:
Tonight’s playlist is totally random. Put the iPod on shuffle, here are the first five songs that came up:
Depeche Mode, “Everything Counts”
Silversun Pickups, “Lazy Eye”
Guns N’ Roses, “It’s Alright”
Dead Milkmen, “Smokin’ Banana Peels”
David Baerwald, “Born for Love”
-M.

Chess Match, Tuesday April 27

The situation: Bottom of the sixth inning, Cardinals leading, 5-2. Two outs, runners on the corners. Pitchers spot in the order.

The decision: The Cardinals remove Chris Carpenter in favor of pinch-hitter Jon Jay
The outcomes: Jay grounds out to end the inning. Reliever Blake Hawksworth gets in trouble in the top of the seventh, and the Cardinals go through four relievers before their out of the inning.
The analysis: Once again, the argument in favor is pretty simple and direct. If Jay gets a hit, the game is broken open. It becomes a four-run lead and the lineup turns over.
The argument against is that Carpenter was only at 89 pitches, and appeared to be getting stronger. Of the last six hitters to face him, four grounded out, one struck out and one reached on an infield single. 
The Cardinals went in knowing they didn’t want to use Ryan Franklin to close out the game, meaning they were down one man. However, it would have been hard to envision that being as big an issue as it turned out to be. Six relievers should be more than enough, and if Hawksworth had just gotten a little luck, it wouldn’t have taken four pitchers to finish the seventh.
The comment: “We were not feeling great about sending him out there [for the seventh]. We felt like he had really worked hard, so he was going to go out there [if his spot in the order hadn’t come up] — but go out there with a very short leash.”

My verdict: I’d have stayed with Carpenter, given the low pitch count and the fact that he seemed to be gaining steam. The strongest argument is the break-the-game-open argument, but that’s more of a factor if the pinch-hitter is a power hitter, someone who could deliver two or three runs on one swing. Jay is not that kind of hitter.

Still, there’s nothing inherently wrong with being protective of your starter, especially a starter like Carpenter who will be key to any hopes in October. Like last night’s move, I probably would have done it the other way but I can certainly see the argument for what was done.

-M. 

Thursday camp tidbits: Carpenter, Ryan, Franklin

Chilly day here in Palm Beach County. Morning temps were in the upper 40s, and it was very windy. Thanks to bright sun, the afternoon has been nice, but it’s one of the cooler days I’ve experienced in my nine springs down here.

Anyway, here are your tidbits.
* As a result of the weather, the Cardinals changed their workout schedule on the fly this morning. The pitchers all got their scheduled work in, but some of the situational hitting and other drills for the hitters were scrapped. The staff didn’t want players standing around doing nothing in the chill and wind.
* TLR, unsurprisingly, refused to bite on a question about his Opening Day starter. It appears that Chris Carpenter is on track for the assignment, but per protocol, the manager wouldn’t confirm who will get the call on April 5 in Cincinnati.
“I’ve done it one way for years,” he said. “I don’t change it. You don’t announce it — we don’t announce it, other guys do.”
* As for Carpenter, he threw his first live batting practice session today and was pretty pleased with it.
“Right now, it’s [about] getting out there and getting my warmup, getting on a mound and I’ll get better each time,” he said. “More conditioning is what you’re looking for.”
* Hanging in Brendan Ryan’s locker this afternoon was a t-shirt that had been made especially for him. It read, “Growing old is manditory [sic]. Growing up is not.” Let’s just say it’s a perfect fit for Ryan.
* The Cardinals are shooting their annual promotional commercials this week. Ryan Franklin starred in one that was shot today, with youngsters Mitchell Boggs, Jason Motte and Blake Hawksworth playing non-speaking roles. 
* Stories that you’ll see on the site this evening: A feature on Adam Wainwright’s involvement with the Catch-a-Dream Foundation and his passion for hunting and fishing; a story on Mike Eruzione’s speech to the team this morning (Eruzione was one of the stars of the 1980 “miracle on ice” Olympic hockey team); and something on Mark McGwire’s reaction to his brother’s new book.
Today’s playlist is an actual five-song sequence that came up on shuffle on my iPhone today:
Pet Shop Boys, “Love Comes Quickly”
Al Green, “Here I Am”
U2, “Trip Through Your Wires”
Happy Mondays, “Step On”
Ozomatli, “Santiago”
-M.

Early Saturday Warm-Up tidbits

Matthew Leach
MLB.com

Hello to one and all from the Winter Warm-Up, being held this year at the Hyatt Regency for the first time. Just a few tidbits from some of our sessions with players, and some other stuff:

* Mark McGwire will be at the Warm-Up on Sunday “in the 1 o’clock hour,” according to the club. He’ll appear on the main stage, and he’ll also take questions in a news conference.
* Chris Carpenter reported he’s in great shape this winter and enjoying a rehab-free winter.
“It’s actually been a lot of fun,” Carpenter said. “I’ve enjoyed my family a lot, didn’t have to worry about rehabbing stuff. it’s been a real nice winter. Enjoyed it a lot. … I feel like I’m as strong as I’ve ever been, as conditioned as I’ve ever been. My shoulder feels good. My elbow feels good. I started throwing a couple weeks ago, so I’m looking forward to it.
“Knock on wood, I’ve told my wife a bunch of times I’m not going to get too excited, because you never know what could happen. But my shoulder hasn’t felt this good since I don’t even know when. Three years. So I’m really excited about the way I feel.”
* Likewise, Jaime Garcia is optimistic about his health, and said he hasn’t been significantly restricted this winter. Garcia returned from ‘Tommy John’ elbow surgery late last season.
“The way I’ve been throwing and feeling, and the way I felt when I was in Memphis last year, I think I’m feeling the best I’ve felt, the best shape, my arm feels great,” Garcia said. “I don’t know how many innings I’m going to pitch, how many I’m going to be able to pitch. I just feel like this is the best I’ve felt.”
* Carpenter and Yadier Molina both expressed enthusiasm for the hiring of Mark McGwire, and neither voiced any real concern when asked about McGwire’s announcement of his past steroid use this week.
“Nothing,” Molina said when asked his thoughts on the announcement. “He’s a great person. He’s a great guy. I’m going to be happy to have him on my team.”
* John Mozeliak confirmed in a Q&A with fans that the Cardinals will take a look at Ben Sheets’ throw next week. However, there’s likely not much of a fit there.
-M.
* I’ll be tweeting through the weekend, so come on over to Twitter and check it out.
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