Chris Carpenter scheduled to begin rehab assignment on Monday with Double-A Springfield

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As first reported Wednesday evening by Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, veteran right-hander Chris Carpenter has been cleared to start a minor league rehab assignment on Monday with the Cardinals’ Double-A affiliate in Springfield, Missouri.

Carpenter threw over 100 pitches in a simulated game on Wednesday afternoon at Busch Stadium and reported no physical issues. He has been out all season — and was not expected to pitch at all in 2013 — due to lingering symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome, but there have been no major issues thus far and his timetable to return to the major leagues will depend mostly on how well he pitches down on the farm.

Carpenter, 38, made only three regular-season starts in 2012 and three starts during the postseason. He pitched a league-high 237 1/3 innings in 2011 and then made six grueling starts in those playoffs.

If everything goes smoothly on his rehab assignment — which is far from a sure thing — Carpenter could become the Cardinals’ fifth starter by early August. Joe Kelly is currently filling that role.

Kyle Schwarber has lost 17-20 pounds

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As is offseason tradition, the first of player-shape reports are trickling in. These usually use some variation of the phrase “best shape of [my/his] life.” This one, though, avoids that at least.

According to ESPN’s Jesse Rogers, Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber has lost 17-20 pounds so far this offseason. Schwarber said that he’s “already big and strong,” so “might as well try to get more explosive, faster.”

Though Schwarber knocked out 30 home runs this past season, his numbers were otherwise pedestrian. He hit .211/.315/.467 with 59 RBI and 67 runs scored in 486 plate appearances.

There has been some speculation that the Cubs will try to trade Schwarber to an American League team where he can be a DH. He’s a subpar defender, so making him a full-time DH makes a lot of sense. So far, though, the only team that has been linked to Schwarber this offseason has been the Red Sox.