08/31/12 8:09 PM ET
Cautious optimism after Carp faces hitters
By Jenifer Langosch / MLB.com
So why the change in plans?
Carpenter went to the same response again and again: Why not?
A cynic would say because it's not normal to start facing hitters after throwing only one mound session in the bullpen. But as manager Mike Matheny noted earlier this week, Carpenter isn't all that typical.
And so he continues his process back from thoracic outlet surgery with his eye on pitching before the season ends. That's the basis for the aggressiveness. But Carpenter also sees no reason to hold back since he feels so good.
"Like I've said all along, I'm not just going to sit around and waste a month and just throw bullpen [sessions]," Carpenter said. "If I have a shot [at pitching this year], why not push it? Today was that step, and I felt good.
"It's still my second session, and we need to continue to take it like that. If I wake up tomorrow and I feel good, I'll be excited and we'll do [this again] at some point in time at the beginning of the week."
Carpenter estimated that he threw about 36 pitches -- a mixture of fastballs and offspeed ones -- to various position players who stepped in to help the right-hander simulate an at-bat.
This was the first time Carpenter had thrown batting practice since June 22. His arm did not respond well after that session, which prompted a visit to Dr. Gregory Pearl. That eventually led to surgery that, at the time, was deemed season-ending.
That's why the next few days will be telling.
"The ball is jumping out of his hand," Matheny said. "Having him take a step forward is a big deal that all of us want to be a part of. Whenever things are starting to move forward, that just amps him up and increases his presence in this clubhouse and on the bench."
That said, neither the Cardinals, nor Carpenter, are making too big a deal of these steps forward. There have already been several instances this year when Carpenter thought he was on his way back toward game action and then endured a setback.
"I'm not going to get too excited," Carpenter said. "I'm not going to get too crazy. I'll hopefully recover well the next few days and do this again early next week and go from there. At some point in time, we know we're going to get to a point where we know we're going to have to make a decision to push it to that next level or not."
Offseason to bring more conditioning for Lynn
WASHINGTON -- Once the Cardinals' season comes to an end -- whether that be without a postseason run or after one -- the organization is expected to challenge Lance Lynn to undertake a more aggressive offseason conditioning program, much the way Jake Westbrook did last winter.
Asked if he felt that Lynn would benefit from following Westbrook's lead, manager Mike Matheny said he believes "that could be the best thing in the world that he could do."
Matheny later clarified that his remarks weren't to suggest that Lynn's current conditioning work is subpar. But describing Lynn as having the potential to be a frontline starter, Matheny said he sees room to push even more.
"I do want to say that I have seen him work," Matheny said. "It's not like he's shutting it down or he was shutting it down for four days in between [starts]. He was working, but I think there's another level there. And I think he's had some great examples with guys around here. They've spent a lot of time investing in him.
"We have all the resources here. It's just a matter of how much he wants to buy into that."
Lynn has made two appearances since moving out of the rotation and into a relief role. His most recent outing came on Thursday, when Lynn allowed two hits, two walks and two earned runs in one inning.
"I thought he looked good last night," Matheny said. "I thought he had a good disposition on the mound. It's a tough [change] to go through. We're right in the middle of a fight, and understanding that we're trying to do what's best for him and what's best for the club that's not always an easy pill to swallow.
"[Thursday], I saw him really letting it fly, his shoulders back and just a good presence on the mound."
Manager Mike Matheny said that Yadier Molina most likely will not start on Saturday, as Molina continues to deal with stiffness in his left shoulder/neck area. It was obvious on Friday that the stiffness was affecting him, too.
Cardinal pitchers were charged with three wild pitches and on each Molina appeared to have trouble reaching. Matheny removed Molina from the game in the seventh.
"A lot of it has to do with his left side shoulder taking the brunt of that hit the other day," Matheny said. "I remember that. Your glove feels like it weighs 10 pounds and you just can't move. He's been trying to fight through it."
Molina sat out only one game after being knocked down hard during a home-plate collision on Tuesday.
Lance Berkman traveled from Memphis, where he wrapped up a rehab assignment on Thursday, to Washington on Friday. The Cardinals will activate the first baseman prior to Saturday's game. No corresponding move will be necessary since clubs are permitted to carry more than 25 players beginning on Sept. 1.
As for Berkman's playing time, it will likely be limited mostly to a pinch-hitting role. Berkman continues to fight soreness in his knees.
A day after twisting his right ankle during pregame fielding drills, Matt Carpenter was still limping around on Friday. He said his ankle felt worse the day after the incident, which prompted the medical staff to X-ray it on Friday afternoon.
The X-rays came back negative, and Carpenter was cleared to pinch-hit had he been needed.
Rookie affiliate Johnson City lost the third game of the best-of-three Appalachian League playoff series on Thursday to lose out on a trip to the championship round. Burlington (Royals) defeated Johnson City, 3-2, at home.
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.