Monday’s press conference broke the news that team leader Chris Carpenter would likely not see the field in 2013, due to recurring arm and shoulder issues that had not only returned, but escalated.
Today, Carpenter spoke for himself for the first time. Let me just say, it wasn’t easy to watch.
Carp — our bulldog, our ace — sounded as broken and unsure as I’ve ever heard anyone.
He recounted the off season workouts, the strength he felt, the “difference” from how last season felt. He expressed how excited he’d been after his first bullpen session, especially after only being able to get to 75% for the end of last season. He’d made plans to travel his family to several games. He was giddy thinking about “how much fun it was going to be” to pitch healthy again.
His demeanor changed with the story — the numbness, the tingling, the zingers all came back, but with an added symptom: discoloration in his hand. That’s when the concern kicked up a notch.
Nerve issues are one thing. Vascular issues are another. Carp reiterated what John Mozeliak said Monday — his biggest concern now is finding out what’s wrong, so as not to risk the use of his arm moving forward, with or without baseball.
Don’t pity the man too much, though. “I’m not dying,” he said repeatedly. “I just have a messed up arm.”
Don’t expect Carp to be a presence in Jupiter, either. At least not this year (though he did express a desire to always be a part of this organization in some capacity).
“A lot of people have asked me to come down…but I don’t want to be a distraction and I just want to get away and evaluate what’s going on,” he said, adding (with true, Carp-like honesty) that he’s slightly concerned he’d get there and be too tempted to get out and throw, pushing himself more than was wise.
Always the competitor.
And, despite the depressing undertones, Carp is still the optimistic one:
“I don’t think I’ll ever retire, to be honest with you, I’ll never use that word … there will always be hope,” he said.
That’s our Carp.
He discussed his options — no surgery, but anything else — and how difficult the last few weeks have been on him, his family, and his teammates. It’s been so hard, in fact, that he has yet to return phone calls from many people closest to him, including Adam Wainwright.
Basically, it was a good 20 minutes of cringing, listening to the backbone of the Cardinals rotation try to process the severity of his situation. And it was brutal.
But, like he said, he’s not dying. He’ll talk with the team doctors as soon as they get back from Jupiter and decide what to do from there.
As for the team, they’ll carry on and take Wainwright’s lead — and that’s one thing Carp isn’t worried about.
“He’s done it before and he’ll do it again.”
Tara is a St. Louis Cardinals reporter for Aaron Miles’ Fastball and a contributor to Around the Horn. Follow her on Twitter @tarawellman.