Chris Carpenter’s loyalty to Cardinals led to extension

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Yesterday the Cardinals and Chris Carpenter announced a two-year, $21 million contract extension that takes the place of a $15 million team option or $1 million buyout for 2012.

Even at age 35 he remains one of the best starters in the league and either through the $15 million option or free agency Carpenter likely could have gotten more than $21 million between 2012 and 2013.

However, during his press conference the former Cy Young winner explained that he never wanted to leave St. Louis and felt a strong sense of loyalty to the Cardinals for giving him an opportunity after injuries had derailed his career:

It’s about being a St. Louis Cardinal for the rest of my career. They have done a ton for me and my family. They’ve stuck with me through times when I’ve been hurt. … I wasn’t excited about jumping around to different organizations if I wanted to continue to play. My wife has been a huge support for me and I know it excites her to be able to stay here also.

It seems likely that the Cardinals would have exercised his $15 million option for 2012 had Carpenter balked at an extension, so he likely saved them $4.5 million for next season in addition to signing on for a reasonable $10.5 million salary in 2013.

That doesn’t qualify him for sainthood or anything–after all, Carpenter has already earned about $65 million during his career–but it’s always nice to see a player decide he’d rather have $21 million and stay where he’s enjoyed playing rather than go elsewhere for, say, $25 million. Too often those type of decisions seem driven by an amount of money that will have zero tangible impact on the player’s life.

Anthony Alford to miss 4-6 weeks following wrist surgery

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Blue Jays’ outfielder Anthony Alford will miss at least 4-6 weeks after undergoing surgery on his left wrist, the team announced on Saturday. Alford was placed on the 10-day disabled list earlier in the week after sustaining a left hamate fracture on a foul pitch, and could miss significant time in what looks to be a lengthy rehab process. MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm reports that the procedure has been scheduled for next week and will be performed by Dr. Donald Sheridan in Arizona.

Alford, 22, was called up to the majors from Double-A New Hampshire last Friday. He went hitless in his first three outings, finally catching a break against the Brewers on Tuesday when he pinch-hit a leadoff double in the seventh. The injury occurred two innings later when Alford fouled off a pitch in the ninth inning, fracturing his wrist in the process.

Alford will join eight other players on the Blue Jays’ disabled list, including outfielders Steve Pearce (calf strain), Dalton Pompey (concussion) and Darrell Cecillani (partial shoulder dislocation). He’s expected to be replaced by 24-year-old outfield prospect Dwight Smith Jr.

Stephen Strasburg hit a new career high today

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Good luck getting a hit against the Nationals this weekend. Stephen Strasburg followed Max Scherzer‘s 13-strikeout performance on Friday with a dazzling outing of his own on Saturday afternoon. The right-hander whiffed a career-best 15 batters in seven innings, allowing just three hits and a walk in the Nats’ 3-0 win.

It took Strasburg several innings to get into a groove after pitching into (and out of) a jam in the first inning. The Padres loaded the bases with Allen Cordoba‘s leadoff single, a throwing error by Ryan Zimmerman and a four-pitch walk to Cory Spangenberg. By the third, Strasburg was cruising, striking out the side on 18 pitches and keeping the Padres off the basepaths until the sixth. He recorded his 15th and final strikeout in the seventh inning, catching Padres’ prospect Franchy Cordero swinging on a 1-2 pitch to effectively end his outing.

While 15 strikeouts set a new career record for the Nationals’ ace, he came close to reaching the mark twice before. The first time, he struck out 14 of 24 batters during his major league debut against the 2010 Pirates, though the 5-2 win did little more than keep the Nationals neck-and-neck with the Marlins at the bottom of the NL East. Five years later, he tied his 14-strikeout record against the 2015 Phillies, tossing a one-hitter in eight innings to cement his ninth victory of the season.

The only one who doesn’t seem overly enthused by the new record? Strasburg himself, who told MLB.com’s Jamal Collier and AJ Cassavell: “It’s pretty cool, but there’s another game five, six days from now. I’ll enjoy it tonight, but back to work tomorrow.”