CHESTERFIELD, Mo. - The NHL lockout has created opportunity of a different kind: By allowing a Cy Young Award winner to tap into his hockey passion.
St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter was one of 12 men on the ice during a 90-minute players-led workout Tuesday at Hardee's Iceplex. Some St. Louis Blues players, in response to a lockout that is in its 52nd day, have met at the St. Louis County facility since September to keep their skills fresh.
"Oh, you know what? He can play," Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said of Carpenter. "We don't mind having him out there. He's such a good guy. It's fun having him out there."
Carpenter has history on the ice. He was an all-state defenseman at Trinity High School in Manchester, N.H., and he received interest from the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks before choosing to pursue baseball. The three-time All-Star never left hockey behind, though. He was spotted during games at Scottrade Center last season, and he skated during a Blues practice in November 2011.
"He's not bad," Blues defenseman Barret Jackman said. "He's not bad at all. He can probably do a lot better out there than most of us would do on a ball field."
Carpenter missed most of last season while recovering from surgery - a procedure that included the removal of a right rib to ease pressure on nerves that affect his right arm. He finished 0-2 with a 3.71 ERA in three regular-season starts, and he went 1-2 with a 2.63 ERA in three starts during the Cardinals' postseason run that ended in the National League Championship Series.
"He did well," Blues winger Andy McDonald said. "He did really well. I think he fits in pretty well out there. We had a lot of fun having him out there."
You never know when a change in schedule will produce something unexpected. For one day, it allowed Carpenter to reacquaint himself with the ice.