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Report: Cardinals' Chris Carpenter could return in June-July as reliever

(Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter was believed to be out for the season with chronic shoulder problems. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Originally believed to be out for the season, St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter could return to the team in late June or early July as a reliever, according to The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Joe Strauss.

The oft-injured Carpenter remains on the 60-day disabled list with chronic shoulder problems.

He has battled health issues throughout his career, winning 144 games while suffering a torn labrum, bone spurs and a UCL tear that required Tommy John surgery, among other injuries.

Carpenter, 38, came back to the Cardinals in September last season, posting a 3.71 ERA in 17 regular-season innings before making three starts in the postseason.

The two sides have mutual interest in yet another return, as Carpenter never officially retired and the St. Louis bullpen is in shambles, sitting last in MLB in ERA at 5.67, nearly a full run higher than the 29th-ranked Rays pen.

Carpenter has pitched out of the bullpen just 18 times during his 15-year career and has not done so since 2008.

From the Post-Dispatch report, quoting Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak.

This is no stunt or pat on the head to a veteran unwilling to concede the obvious. Both parties believe Carpenter can potentially address the gash to the bullpen’s starboard side.

“I’m candidly optimistic and excited about him contributing,” Mozeliak says.

...

“I want to do what I can to help,” Carpenter said Thursday at Scottrade Center, where the former high school defenseman watched the Blues’ playoff win against the Los Angeles Kings.

“We really haven’t focused on a timetable or anything,” Mozeliak says. “We’re merely letting him go out and see what he can do. If he clears one hurdle, he proceeds to the next.”

Carpenter, 37, almost certainly would return in relief.

He would require less time conditioning to work several outs rather than pitch for six or seven innings. Just as significant, the Cardinals’ rotation easily leads both leagues in starters’ earned-run average. No weak link has been exposed .

Asked about Carpenter’s reaction, Mozeliak offers, “I’ll echo what he said. He is feeling good, which is something that I honestly would not have expected after receiving the news (of his nerve-related shoulder weakness) in February.”

The news comes during a week that saw the team announce that closer Jason Motte would undergo Tommy John surgery and demote key relievers Mitchell Boggs and Marc Rzepczynski to Triple-A.

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