KANSAS CITY, Mo. Injured Cardinals starter Chris Carpenter took another significant step in his rehab from a nerve issue Friday afternoon, facing hitters for the first time during a simulated game on the field at Kauffman Stadium.
Carpenter, who has yet to pitch this season after being shut down during spring training with weakness in his right shoulder, threw approximately 30 pitches to a group of Cardinals hitters before they faced the Kansas City Royals.
The right-hander has thrown from the mound five times four bullpen sessions and now one time against hitters in the past week and a half. He began playing catch in late May after has progressed steadily since.
Carpenter first reported neck stiffness and pain following a workout of facing live hitting on March 3. He had a cortisone injection to alleviate the pain, and returned to the bullpen mound nearly two weeks later.
But his arm didn't respond after another workout facing live hitters a few days later and he returned to St. Louis for a new round of tests. He spent the next several weeks strengthening his shoulder before finally being cleared to begin throwing the final week of May.
Carpenter, who turned 37 in April, threw more than 270 innings combining the 2011 regular season and playoffs, the most of any pitcher in baseball. He threw 36 grueling innings in the postseason, including two starts of three days of rest and three World Series starts.
The veteran right-hander surpassed the 4,000-pitch mark for the first time in his career, finishing with 4,155 pitches thrown in the regular season and playoffs. Carpenter has missed nearly four full seasons due to injuries in his career.
Carpenter will likely throw to hitters at least one more time before beginning a rehab assignment. The former Cy Young Award winner would probably need at least three rehab starts before rejoining the rotation.
Carpenter went 11-9 with a 3.45 ERA in 34 starts last season.