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.
The ALCS had a weird play in Game 4 on Tuesday night, but Game 4 of the NLCS did as well. This one involved Cubs outfielder Albert Almora, Jr. and his attempt to spark a rally in the bottom of the ninth inning against Dodgers reliever Ross Stripling.
After Alex Avila singled, Almora ripped a double to left field, past a diving Enrique Hernandez. The ball rolled to the ivy in front of the wall. Most outfielders there would’ve put their hands up, which would have alerted the umpires to call an immediate ground-rule double. Hernandez didn’t, instead fishing the ball out and firing it back into the infield. Avila had stopped at third base, but Almora kept running. Much to his surprise, he pulled up into third base to see his teammate standing there, resigned to his fate as a dead duck. Third baseman Justin Turner applied the tag on Almora for what he thought was the first out of the inning.
Almora, however, was then sent back to second base after the umpires correctly called a ground-rule double.
Unfortunately for the Cubs, the lucky break didn’t help as closer Kenley Jansen came in and took care of business, retiring all three batters he faced without letting an inherited runner score. The Dodgers won 6-1 and now lead the NLCS three games to none. They’ll try to punch their ticket to the World Series on Wednesday.