Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter tossed a 75-pitch bullpen this afternoon and came away feeling “strong”. The right-hander missed most of the 2012 season after undergoing surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome in his right shoulder and was expected to miss all of 2013 with shoulder, neck, and arm issues.
GM John Mozeliak told the media recently, though, that Carpenter could return to the team as a member of the bullpen. The 38-year-old’s continued progress has him inching ever closer to a summer return, which is welcome news for the Cardinals as they watched closer Jason Motte undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery.
Tom Timmermann of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has more:
What’s next is more bullpen sessions for Carpenter, who said he would have a better idea at the end of the Cardinals’ current homestand as to when he’ll get in games. He said Friday’s session was his fourth or fifth time in the bullpen, and he’s felt no pain and no numbness.
“I’m going to continue to throw bullpens,” he said. “Just continue to get some work up there, continue to put some stress on my arm and see what happens. I’ve had no problems, no issues, no setbacks so far, and my arm feels strong. I’m feeling good about it. I’ll continue to do it.”
Robert Murray and MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported earlier, respectively, that the Phillies signed pitcher Francisco Liriano and infielder Neil Walker to minor league contracts. If he makes the major league roster, Liriano will earn a salary of $1.5 million with an additional $1.25 million available through performance incentives. Walker’s contract information is not yet known.
Liriano, 36, struggled from 2016-18 but enjoyed a productive year out of the bullpen for the Pirates this past season. He posted a 3.47 ERA with 63 strikeouts and 35 walks over 70 innings. The lefty was quite effective against same-handed batters, limiting fellow lefties to a .659 OPS. That would figure to be a key component if Liriano makes the Phillies’ Opening Day roster.
Walker, 34, hit .261/.344/.395 with eight home runs and 38 RBI over 381 plate appearances with the Marlins last year. The veteran is versastile, having played first, second, and third base along with both corner outfield spots in recent seasons. Despite Walker’s versatility, it is tough to see room on the Phillies’ roster for him, barring injuries to other players. It never hurts to have depth.