Chris Carpenter’s comeback keeps chugging along … possibly as a starter

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Chris Carpenter threw another problem-free bullpen session yesterday, continuing an unexpected comeback from spine and shoulder problems that initially threatened to end his career.

Instead he’s eying a minor-league rehab assignment at some point within the next two weeks, assuming the 38-year-old can avoid a setback while throwing a few more bullpen sessions.

“I don’t want to get ahead of myself,” Carpenter told Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com. “I want to slowly get back involved and make sure that I’m doing the things that I need to do to be ready when it’s time.”

But here’s a twist: While most people had assumed any comeback would be as a reliever, Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that Carpenter’s work patterns in the bullpen sessions appear to have him conditioning himself to be a starter. Him returning at all would be a helluva story, but as a starter? Wow.

Michael Pineda throws off mound for first time since Tommy John surgery

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According to MLB.com associate reporter Jarrid Denney, right-hander Michael Pineda threw off a mound Wednesday morning at Target Field for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Pineda was signed to a two-year, $10 million free agent contract this winter by the Twins, who are probably more focused on what he might be able to do in 2019 rather than 2018.

He had the reconstructive elbow surgery last July 18, so he won’t be an option for the Minnesota rotation until probably late August or September of this year. Still, that deal seems like a nice gamble given the price point and the possibility that he will regain his form as a No. 2 or No. 3 starter. That he’s making steady progress in his rehab makes the situation all the more encouraging.

Pineda, 29, holds a 4.05 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, and 687 strikeouts in 680 career major league innings.