Originally written on Fox Sports Midwest  |  Last updated 3/18/12
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JUPITER, Fla. Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter faced hitters for the first time in two weeks Sunday but his status for Opening Day remains up in the air. Carpenter, who is dealing with a bulging disc in his back, threw two simulated innings of 20 pitches each to three Cardinals hitters on the back fields of Roger Dean Stadium. "It was a good step," Carpenter said. "I was excited to get back out there and throw a little bit. Now we move on to the next step, which I think if I wake up good enough tomorrow, we can go out and do that again sometime soon." The Cardinals had already planned to shorten Carpenter's innings this spring after he threw a career-high 273 13 innings last year between the regular season and playoffs. But things changed following a throw to hitters on March 3 when the right-hander developed persistent neck stiffness. Thought to maybe be a reoccurrence of a nerve issue that plagued him in the past, Carpenter and the Cardinals were relieved to find out he instead ...
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