St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Chris Carpenter faced live hitters Monday for the first time this season, making the next big step in a shoulder rehab that seemed completely out of the question just a few months ago.
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Carp threw about 40 pitches off the mound Monday to Shane Robinson and Matt Adams, and told reporters afterward that his shoulder felt good, reports Chad Thornburg of MLB.com. The session was not at game-speed, and the right-hander is still a ways away from being game-ready, but it's still far beyond where the club thought he'd be at any point this season given the retirement rumors that surfaced during Spring Training.
The 38-year-old has been battling nerve-damage issues in his neck and shoulder for the past two-plus seasons. Carpenter is still experiencing some fatigue in his shoulder, which is why his live-batter session was pushed back from last Tuesday, but the right-hander said that he's feeling better. Monday marked the first time Carpenter has been able to throw three consecutive sessions without discomfort.
The Cardinals have yet to set a firm timeline for Carpenter's return to the club, but it's been estimated that he could make his 2013 debut as early as July if all continues to go well.