Chris Carpenter cleared to begin throwing program

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The Cardinals were shut out by Kyle Kendrick and the Phillies on Saturday evening at Busch Stadium and have fallen a game-and-a-half behind the Reds in the National League Central standings. But the Budweiser should be flowing as steadily as usual on Memorial Day weekend in the Gateway to the West.

According to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, veteran right-hander Chris Carpenter “recently began throwing into a net” and will soon progress to regular flat-ground games of catch.

Carpenter has been sidelined since the middle of spring training with nerve issues in his neck and shoulder, and is refraining from projecting a return date. But it’s feasible that he could be ready in six weeks.

“It’s about going day to day, step by step,” the 37-year-old told the Post-Dispatch. “I’m not getting very far ahead. The hope is that everything continues to progress. That’s pretty much where I’m at now.”

Carp registered a 3.45 ERA and 191/55 K/BB ratio across 237 1/3 regular-season innings (34 starts) in 2011.

Video: Albert Almora, Jr. lays out to make a great catch in deep right-center field

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Cubs center fielder Albert Almora, Jr. robbed Giants first baseman Brandon Belt of at least a double in the top of the first inning of Monday’s game at Wrigley Field. Almora completely left his feet to catch the ball before landing just shy of the warning track.

The Giants took the early lead two batters prior to Belt’s at-bat as Joe Panik hit a solo home run to center field.

Anibal Sanchez accepts optional assignment to Triple-A

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The Tigers announced on Monday that pitcher Anibal Sanchez has accepted an optional assignment to Triple-A Toledo. Pitcher Warwick Saupold was recalled from Toledo to take Sanchez’s roster spot.

Sanchez, 33, continued to struggle this season pitching out of the bullpen. He gave up 26 runs (21 earned) on 34 hits and nine walks with 22 strikeouts in 21 innings. Nine of those 34 hits were home runs. Sanchez finished the 2015 season with a 4.99 ERA and last season with a 5.87 ERA, so he’s had a rough go of it in recent years.

The decision to go to Triple-A was Sanchez’s, Anthony Fenech of the Free Press reports. Sanchez wants to be stretched out as a starting pitcher again.