Chris Carpenter throws two-inning simulated game

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Cardinals right-hander Chris Carpenter took a big step in the right direction Sunday, throwing two simulated innings to a group of teammates in camp.

Carpenter was diagnosed earlier this month with a bulging cervical disc in his neck and has not yet appeared in a Grapefruit League game. But he’s beginning to make progress and might not have to miss a turn in the regular-season starting rotation if he’s able to avoid setbacks from here on out.

“It was a good step,” Carpenter told reporters after Sunday’s workout, per Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I was excited to get back out there and throw a little bit. Now we move on to the next step. Hopefully, I wake up good enough tomorrow and go out and do that again sometime soon.”

Carpenter will need at least three exhibition outings to get properly geared up for April.

The 36-year-old right-hander registered a 3.45 ERA and 191/55 K/BB ratio across a league-leading 237 1/3 innings last year for the Cardinals before going 4-0 with a 3.25 ERA in six postseason starts.

Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg’s status for 2023 ‘a mystery’

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK — Stephen Strasburg‘s status for 2023 is up in the air after a series of injuries that limited him to one start this season, Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said.

“It’s still a little bit of a mystery,” Rizzo said about the 2019 World Series MVP before the Nationals were scheduled to play a doubleheader at the New York Mets. “I know that he’s working hard strengthening his core and the other parts of his body. We’re just going to have to see. With the type of surgery and rehab that he’s had, it’s unfamiliar to us. It’s unfamiliar to a lot of people. We’re going to have to take it day by day.”

The 34-year-old right-hander has thrown a total of 31 1/3 innings across just eight starts over the past three seasons combined. He had carpal tunnel surgery in 2020, then needed an operation to correct thoracic outlet syndrome in 2021.

After his only start of 2022, he went back on the injured list with a stress reaction of the ribs.

“We’ll have to see where the rehab process takes us later on in the winter,” Rizzo said. “We’re going to monitor him. He’s local, so we’ll see him all the time and we’ll see where he’s at going into spring training mode.”

Strasburg is a three-time All-Star who signed a $245 million contract after helping Washington win a championship in 2019.

He is 113-62 with a 3.24 ERA for his career.

Meeting with reporters toward the end of a rough season – Washington entered with a majors-worst and Nationals-worst record of 55-104 and shipped away the team’s best player, outfielder Juan Soto, at the trade deadline – Rizzo talked about doing “an autopsy of the organization.”

“I look at the season as a disappointment. I’ve always said that you are what your record says you are, and our record says we’re the worst team in the league right now. It’s hard to argue with that,” Rizzo said. “The flip side of that is we’re in a process.”

Rizzo and manager Dave Martinez were given contract extensions during the season. Martinez said his entire coaching staff will return next year.