Chris Carpenter looks good, preparing to return as a starter

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Not only is Chris Carpenter hoping to pitch this season after making a remarkably fast recovery from July surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome, the former Cy Young winner is preparing to return as a starter rather than simply trying to get some innings in out of the Cardinals’ bullpen.

Here’s what general manager John Mozeliak told Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com about Carpenter’s status:

Given the guys we have now in our bullpen, you can see some sort of piggyback scenario if it worked out that way. He has to build up his pitch count. Given the fact he hasn’t been able to throw much prior to surgery, he does feel good. It looks like he’s on track to contribute. We’re hopeful that’s what happens. When you look at how Carp was throwing, it was screaming that this deserved an opportunity for consideration. It was really what he was doing [that] allowed us to sort of rethink it.

In other words Carpenter has looked really good throwing bullpen sessions and live batting practice, which is one helluva change from the initial belief that he’d definitely miss all of this season and might not be ready to begin 2013 on the active roster.

Of course, it’s a long way from “looks good throwing on the side” to “looks good enough to trust starting games in a pennant race” but so far so good.

Ronald Acuña’s CT scan comes back clean

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The Braves announced late this morning that the CT scan on Ronald Acuña’s left elbow came back clear and he is considered day-to-day.

As you have all heard by now, Acuña was pulled from Wednesday night’s game against the Marlins after taking a Jose Urena pitch off his elbow in the bottom of the first inning in what was quite obviously an intentional plunking. Acuña  only suffered a bruise and some swelling. He missed all but that at bat of last night’s game and will likely sit out tonight’s game against the Rockies. It is expected that he’ll be back in action this weekend, however.

Acuña is batting .358/.425/.821 with 12 home runs, 24 RBI, and 25 runs scored over his last 25 games.