Chris Carpenter is ready to resume facing live hitters

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MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch provides the update:

Chris Carpenter threw his fourth bullpen session on Wednesday and is expected to add the challenge of facing hitters the next time he gets on the mound.

Assuming Carpenter doesn’t feel any day-after pain from his latest work, the right-hander will throw batting practice during the team’s weekend series in Kansas City

Carpenter has been on the disabled list all season with a nerve issue in his neck and shoulder that began bothering him during the second week of spring training.

“I feel good. I really do,” the veteran righty told Langosch on Wednesday. “My shoulder feels good. My body feels good. The effort level has been there, too. … I feel good, and I’m looking forward to the next step.”

Carpenter will need to make three or four minor league rehab starts before rejoining the front end of the Cardinals’ starting rotation. If he’s able to avoid setbacks, he could be ready for MLB action by late July.

The 36-year-old right-hander posted a 3.45 ERA across a major league-high 237 1/3 innings last year before going 4-0 with a 3.25 ERA in six postseason outings (three of which were World Series starts).

The 2012 Cards climbed to one game over .500 (35-34) with Wednesday night’s 3-1 victory over Detroit.

Joey Votto: “I tried to get fatter. I succeeded at that apparently.”

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We’ve poked fun often at the spring training trope of players showing up to camp in the “best shape of [their] life.” Reds first baseman Joey Votto has turned that entirely on its head. Talking about his offseason, the 2010 NL MVP said, “I tried to get fatter. I succeeded at that apparently. We did all the testing and I am fatter,” Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto, of course, wasn’t trying to say he’s not in shape; he was just using some of his trademark self-deprecating humor.

Votto did get serious when discussing the state of the rebuilding Reds. As Buchanan also reported, Votto said, “I think we’re starting to get to the point where people are starting to get tired of this stretch of ball. I think something needs to start changing and start going in a different direction. I’m going to do my part to help make that change.”

Votto, 34, is under contract with the Reds through at least 2023, so he still has plenty of incentive to help see the rebuild through. He has been nothing short of stellar over the last three seasons. This past season, he hit .320/.454/.578 with 36 home runs, 100 RBI, and 106 runs scored in 707 appearances across all 162 games. Votto led the majors in walks (134) and on-base percentage and led the National League in OPS (1.032).

Despite Votto’s presence, both FanGraphs and PECOTA are projecting the Reds to put up a 74-88 record. The club had a pretty quiet offseason, expecting to enter 2018 with largely the same roster as last year.