JUPITER, Fla. -- For the first time since March 3, Chris Carpenter grabbed a glove, a ball and played catch on Wednesday. The normally routine spring activity garnered way more attention than usual, though that was to be expected after the right-hander's recent shutdown because of neck stiffness.
Seeing Carpenter throwing back and forth with starter Jake Westbrook was a welcome sign for the Cardinals, who in Wednesday's game began the process of getting Lance Lynn stretched out in case Carpenter is not ready for the start of the season. Carpenter, who has not put a timeline on his return, reported having no range-of-motion issues while throwing.
"I felt good this morning," Carpenter said. "I felt good yesterday. I'm continuing to go in the right direction, which is what they were hoping. Now, we'll continue to move forward and see what happens. That's not up to me."
Carpenter said he has not yet been told what his next throwing activity will be or when it might come. He also chose not to speculate on when he might return to throwing off a mound. He did, though, note that he continues to feel improvement with his neck, which had been stiff due to an issue with a bulging disc.
"I think it's going to depend on how I feel," Carpenter said. "That's up to the doctors and the trainers. I felt good today, but this isn't a whole lot. This was just to go out and see how it feels."
Lynn transitions smoothly to starting nod
JUPITER, Fla. -- The shift from reliever to starter went quite seamlessly for Lance Lynn, who impressed with velocity, command and efficiency during his three-inning outing on Wednesday.
Moved into a starting role in case Chris Carpenter is not able to take his turn in the rotation at the start of the season, Lynn flashed multiple 96-mph fastballs and impressive secondary pitches while shutting out the Astros. He allowed two hits early, but then settled in to retire the final eight batters he faced.
The most challenging part of Lynn's day apparently came before he threw his first pitch. Though he pitched almost exclusively as a starter before last summer's move to the bullpen, Lynn found himself a bit off with the timing of his pregame routine. As a reliever, he had become accustomed to warming up more quickly.
"I don't know if I just got looser faster or what it was, but it felt like time was kind of standing still while I was getting loose," Lynn said. "Next time, I'll go a little later so I don't have to wait around or look like I'm waiting around."
Despite having pitched just one inning in his previous spring game, Lynn felt good enough that he lobbied to go four. But by the end of the third, he had hit his pitch count of 40, giving the Cardinals no reason to push Lynn any further.
"He's a horse," manager Mike Matheny said. "He's a guy that can carry the workload. If you have stuff like that and you can carry it, it's hard not to think of that as a starter. Today was a great day for Lance. He did a terrific job for us."
One of the biggest benefits of having his role suddenly switched will be that Lynn now has the opportunity to work on all the pitches in his repertoire. He has added a cutter into his mix and wants to incorporate his changeup, a pitch he hardly used out of the 'pen last year, more often. The number of innings Lynn is slated to get as a starter will allow him to focus heavily on both, while not sacrificing the normal work he's doing to get his fastball command sharp.
"I'm looking forward to making those pitches useful pitches," Lynn said. "You never know when you might need something like that in a relief spot, too. It's going to be good for me to make sure those pitches are right where I need them to be for the rest of the year."
Lynn is expected to make his next start on Monday, when the Cardinals travel to Orlando to face the Braves.
Miller among seven cut from big league camp
JUPITER, Fla. -- Top pitching prospect Shelby Miller was among seven players cut from Major League camp on Wednesday, leaving the Cardinals with 44 players vying for the 25 regular-season roster spots.
Miller, along with pitchers Joe Kelly and Kevin Siegrist, were reassigned to Minor League camp. All had been participating in Major League Spring Training as non-roster invitees. Three players on the club's 40-man roster -- right-hander Maikel Cleto, right-hander Brandon Dickson and infielder Pete Kozma -- were optioned to Triple-A Memphis. Infielder Zack Cox was optioned to Double-A Springfield, where he is expected to begin the year as the club's starting third baseman.
Miller made two Grapefruit League starts this month, but was out of additional starting opportunities now that the Cardinals have a rotation of five that need to get ready for the season. By moving to Minor League camp now, Miller can continue pitching on normal rest and will be able to appropriately build up his arm so that he can begin the year in either the Double-A or Triple-A rotation.
Cleto and Dickson are both expected to begin the year in Memphis' rotation. In two spring appearances, Cleto allowed five hits, four earned runs and four walks in 3 2/3 innings. Dickson pitched four innings, giving up seven hits and five earned runs. He struck out four.
Kozma and Cox, both former first-round Draft picks, earned limited playing time this spring because of the number of other infielders in camp.
After this latest round of cuts, the Cardinals are left with 20 pitchers, five catchers, 11 infielders and eight outfielders.
• Though he lobbied to play, Lance Berkman (left-knee stiffness) remained out of the Cardinals' lineup again on Wednesday. Berkman will not travel to Fort Myers, Fla., on Thursday, but he is expected to be back on the field at home on Friday. Berkman last played on Saturday.
• Versatile infielder Alex Cora got his first start of the spring at first base on Wednesday. The Cardinals have shuffled infielders through the first 10 days of Grapefruit League play. Though Cora has appeared in 1,273 Major League games, he has only played first 13 times. He has never started a game there.
• Outfielder Carlos Beltran reported no issues with his right shoulder after playing in the outfield on Tuesday. Beltran, who has been dealing with some soreness in his shoulder, is scheduled to play right field again on Thursday.
• The Cardinals' use of the designated hitter is going to last for about another week, manager Mike Matheny said. After that, pitchers will begin taking their turns in the batting order for National League clubs. For obvious reasons, American League teams will utilize the DH all spring, even when playing NL teams.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.