ST. LOUIS (AP) — St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter hasn't ruled out pitching again, including this year.
If that seems remarkable, remember that it's Carpenter, whose sporadically brilliant career has included several comebacks from injury.
The 37-year-old Carpenter met with reporters at Busch Stadium on Monday as pitchers and catchers reported to spring training in Jupiter, Fla. Last week, the team said it wasn't counting on the long-time staff ace this season, shut down this time due to apparent circulation problems that left his pitching hand aching and discolored for hours after he left the mound.
Against odds, perhaps, there's dogged optimism.
"Maybe I don't ever want it to end," Carpenter said. "I don't think I'll ever retire, to be honest with you. I'll never say that word. There might always be hope. Maybe like when I'm 48 I can come back and pitch some more."
The 2005 NL Cy Young winner plans on meeting with team medical personnel returning after doing physical exams in Florida. He hadn't responded to text messages from numerous well-wishers, nor one from Dr. Greg Pearl of Dallas, who performed radical surgery last July to relieve nerve compression in the shoulder that involved removing a rib, because he "didn't know what to say."
"It was supposed to be fine," Carpenter said. "And it hasn't been. So we'll see what happens."
When Carpenter was shut down last spring, the symptoms were numbness and tingling up and down the right side of the body, including his face. Carpenter had been confident at the team's Winter Warm-up in mid-January that he'd be ready to go. Not long afterward, he had to cut short his first attempt throwing off a mound. He gave it a few more tries before informing the team.
"I was trying to think of reasons to be positive about what's going on," Carpenter said. "My arm felt pretty good, my hand was a little messed up. It just continued to go downhill."
The fourth session, Carpenter said, he was throwing at 70 percent effort and "had no idea where the ball was going."
Carpenter is entering the second year of a two-year, $21 million contract and said he owed it the organization to keep trying. But after undergoing an eighth surgery last season that "absolutely" left concerns about long-term health, he said there would not be a ninth.