Chris Carpenter underwent season-ending surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome in July and at the time the big question was whether he’d be ready to contribute to the Cardinals next season.
Now it turns out the surgery may not have been “season-ending” after all, because Carpenter has been throwing bullpen sessions recently in attempt to gauge his readiness for 2013 and … well, he’s felt so good that returning this year is suddenly not impossible.
Carpenter threw a 40-pitch bullpen session yesterday, at which point Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post Dispatch asked if he’d be able to pitch this season and the former Cy Young winner replied: “I don’t know. Let’s see what happens.”
Hummel then told Mike Matheny about Carpenter’s response, to which the manager said: “That’s a heckuva answer. We’ll see how he feels tomorrow. It was fun to watch today.”
It’s worth noting that the Cardinals aren’t exactly hurting for rotation depth and in fact just demoted Lance Lynn to the bullpen less than two months after he made the All-Star team as a starter. The odds are obviously stacked against Carpenter making any kind of major impact down the stretch, but then again he’s already made a mockery of the odds with this rapid comeback.
Josh Hamilton is not and never was a key part of the 2017 Texas Rangers plans. He was in camp and under contract and had at least a chance to make the team, but the Rangers fate as a ballclub did not depend on him. It would merely be nice for them if he revealed that he had a bit left in the tank and if he could, like a lot of other superstars in baseball history, give them one last season of decent production in part time play as a matter of depth and flexibility.
As such, this development is more unfortunate for Josh Hamilton and those who root for him than it is for the Rangers as a club, but it is unfortunate all the same:
That’s the fourth surgery he’s had on that knee in less than two years and the 11th knee surgery he’s had overall in his baseball career. It’s sad to say but safe to say that Hamilton’s days in baseball are numbered if not over completely. At some point an athlete’s body can only take so much.
Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.
I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.
I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.
As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.
There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.