Redbirds cautious with ace Carpenter

Redbirds cautious with ace Carpenter

Posted: Tuesday, March 8, 2011 3:11 pm

FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — St. Louis Card-inals ace Chris Carpenter has been scratched from his next scheduled start with a balky left hamstring.
Carpenter tweaked his leg during a spring start last Tuesday and felt it again during a throwing session on Sunday, forcing the Cardinals to delay his next outing.
St. Louis manager Tony La Russa is preaching patience when it comes to Carpenter, and he says he isn’t concerned about the right-hander in the long term.
Carpenter went 16-9 with a 3.22 ERA last season.
“As long as he’s able to do all his exercises, we’re OK,” La Russa said. “We’ve just got to get him 100 percent-plus, in my opinion. I’d send him out there opening day if his arm was sound and his leg was sound with zero innings. He’s got a wealth of experience and competitive fire in his gut. But the whole key is get him healthy and we’ll go from there, whenever that is.”
Health has been a problem this spring for St. Louis, which already lost starter Adam Wainwright (right elbow) for the year and will be without utilityman Nick Punto (sports hernia) at the start of the season.
La Russa talked about Carpenter before St. Louis’ 10-4 victory over Minnesota on Monday.
Meanwhile, David Freese played third base, ran the bases and had a big day at the plate. Not bad for his first game since a pair of ankle surgeries.
Freese had two hits and three RBI in St. Louis’ victory over the Twins on Monday, an encouraging sign during a rough spring for the Cardinals.
“It felt good to get out there,” Freese said. “To be honest, I could have gone 0-for-3 or 0-for-4, and I would have felt the same way. I feel good right now. I just have to keep progressing.
“The basepaths is what the key is. I just have to keep pushing myself, running around the bases.”
Freese’s ankle problems started with a 2009 car crash. During last season’s second ankle-related minor league rehab stint, he turned his right ankle badly enough to require reconstructive surgery in August. A month later, he had surgery to remove a bone spur from his left ankle.
Freese hit .294 with four homers and 36 RBI in 70 games last season. St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said it was good to write his name back in the lineup again, and he also plans to do it on opening day.
“He had good execution,” La Russa said. “It was his first time out there in a long time. If he’s healthy, then he’s our third baseman. He will be.”
Twins closer Joe Nathan had reconstructive right elbow surgery last March but is off to a nice start this spring.
He worked the fifth against St. Louis for his third consecutive hitless inning.
Jake Westbrook allowed one run and four hits in 32⁄3 innings for the Cardinals.
The 33-year-old right-hander made 33 starts last season for Cleveland and St. Louis after being sidelined for much of the previous two years due to reconstructive elbow surgery.
“Last year I was coming off not having pitched a big league ballgame, as it were, in 18 months,” Westbrook said. “Now I’m going out there and concentrating on getting ready for the year and not worrying about my arm.
“I’m out there concentrating on putting the ball where I want to. After what I’ve gone through in ’08 and ’09 to not have to worry about your arm, that’s a huge weight off your mind.”
NOTES: Twins C Joe Mauer, recovering from offseason left knee surgery, participated in fielding drills but has yet to catch a bullpen session.
There is no timetable for his return or 1B Justin Morneau (post-concussion problems).
… Twins RF Michael Cuddyer is almost healed after having a wart removed from his left foot last week. … Twins LF Delmon Young might play in a B-squad game scheduled for 9 a.m. this morning against the Pirates after struggling through a turf toe injury. … Twins C Danny Lehmann was taken for a precautionary CT scan after getting hit in the head by a bat during a backswing. … Minnesota reliever Anthony Slama had an MRI on his right elbow.

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