JUPITER, Fla. -- Chris Carpenter rejoined his teammates at the Cardinals' Spring Training complex on Monday and is expected to resume a strength and conditioning program midweek. The program, which will be crafted by the club's training staff, will be tailored to focus on strengthening Carpenter's right shoulder, which is currently hampered by nerve irritation.

Though Carpenter did not project when he might be healthy enough to return to the mound, he was not hesitant when asked if he would pitch again this season. Carpenter does not believe this to be an injury that could threaten his entire season.

"We have to just get my shoulder strong and get it stabilized, so I can get back out there throwing and stay out there," Carpenter said. "I have to get it strong, and when I get it strong, I'll be ready to come back."

Carpenter expressed some relief in being able to finally have a firm diagnosis that could explain the weakness he has been experiencing in his right shoulder. The injury was initially thought to be related to a bulging cervical disc, but after consulting with several St. Louis-area specialists last week, it was determined that Carpenter was again dealing with a nerve injury.

Nerve issues cost Carpenter parts of his 2004 and '08 seasons. He is certain to begin this season on the disabled list, and regardless of how quickly his shoulder strengthens, it appears as if the right-hander will be sidelined at least into May.

"It's always frustrating because you want to go out and compete," Carpenter said. "But I'm not going to be that guy who sits around and keeps his head down. You figure it out, you deal with it. There was some frustration during the week, while we were trying to figure out what was going on, but you move on. It's my job to get back in the weight and training room and get back on the field as fast as I can. I'll do that."

Carpenter will begin his strengthening program in Jupiter, but he said he expects to accompany the team back to St. Louis once the season starts.

At long last, Cardinals will enjoy day off

JUPITER, Fla. -- Manager Mike Matheny has voiced his displeasure several times this spring about having to wait until March 27 to give his team its only scheduled off-day of the spring. It comes 39 days after pitchers and catchers held their first Spring Training workout and as many as two weeks after other clubs enjoyed their off-day.

As a result, Matheny has sharply limited the amount of activity that will take place on Tuesday's off-day. He has told players and most of his coaching staff not to show up until Wednesday. Jaime Garcia is the exception.

In order to stay on his normal throwing schedule, Garcia will report to the team's complex on Tuesday and start a Triple-A game in the morning. That will take the place of Garcia making a Grapefruit League start this week.

Garcia would remain lined up to make his final start of the spring next Sunday, before taking the mound in the Cardinals' second game of the regular season.

Matheny will be among the rest of the players and staff spending Tuesday somewhere other than the team's Jupiter complex. Matheny will travel up the eastern coast of Florida to Vero Beach, where his sons are participating in a high school baseball showcase.

Cardinals unveil Homers for Health initiative

JUPITER, Fla. -- With Matt Holliday and David Freese serving as ambassadors, the Cardinals unveiled a new season-long charity initiative called Homers for Health following Monday's Spring Training game.

The program will be pledge-based, with fans asked to make a monetary pledge for every home run hit by the Cardinals this season. Pledge amounts must be made in 25-cent increments, and all donors will receive a Homers for Health window cling and a Rally Tally Scorecard. Donors pledging at least 50 cents per homer will also receive a commemorative photo of Freese and Holliday.

"This is a way that we can help give back," Holliday said during the program's introductory press conference on Monday afternoon. "We felt like this was a great opportunity to get involved. We hope everyone will see the benefit."

All monies raised through this program will be donated to the SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center, which is a not-for-profit pediatric hospital in St. Louis.

"We're going to do our job, play our hearts out," Freese said. "We just want Cardinal Nation to be involved. This is an important thing. We can change lives here."

To kick-start the program, Centene Charitable Foundation announced that it would match up to $100,000 in donations. Peabody Energy offered an initial pledge of $50,000. All donations are tax deductible, and money will be collected twice -- once at the All-Star break and again after the season. A credit card must be used for the transaction.

Fans looking to make a pledge can find more information at glennon.org. Pledge forms are also available at all Dierbergs locations. The Cardinals hit 162 home runs in 2011.

Cardinals option outfielder Chambers to Minors

JUPITER, Fla. -- The Cardinals optioned outfielder Adron Chambers to Triple-A Memphis following Monday's 6-3 loss to the Mets. He was one of eight outfielders left in camp and was competing to earn a roster spot as a bench player.

Chambers is expected to be a starter in Memphis, which is where he spent most of the 2011 season. In 128 games with Memphis last year, Chambers hit .277 with a .368 on-base percentage. He also appeared in 18 games with the big league club.

Chambers, who was drafted in the 38th round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, appeared in 11 Grapefruit League games and finished with seven hits in 27 at-bats. He had two doubles, drove in a run and swiped one base in two attempts. He did not play in the Cardinals' four most recent games.

"He's still growing as an outfielder, growing in instincts," manager Mike Matheny said of Chambers. "He hasn't played that much baseball. You can see every year, he's taking in a little bit more and taking everything he can get. I think we're seeing good reads in the outfield and taking good at-bats. He's running well. He's very conscientious in the outfield. I've been impressed with how he's gaining more of those instincts in the outfield."

The Cardinals now have 31 players remaining in big league camp.