It hasn’t happened since 2011, as baseball fans did not have the opportunity to see the two face off in 2012. Both players were on the disabled list when the Colorado Rockies and St. Louis Cardinals met for four in St. Louis in early July followed by three in Denver that began at the end of that month. The two clubs will not meet again this season.
Tulo hasn’t played since the end of May, when the Rockies’ all-star shortstop went out with a groin problem that eventually required nerve surgery. Carpenter has missed the entire season with a condition that was also nerve-related. He underwent a procedure to relieve nerve compression in his right arm that included removal of a rib, along with connecting muscles.
Tulowitzki officially began his rehab with Triple-A Colorado Springs during the last few days of August, then moved to Double-A Tulsa when the Pacific Coast League season ended. The Rockies haven’t announced the timetable for his return to the majors beyond the plan for him to play in the first two games of the Texas League semi-finals on Wednesday and Thursday.
Originally thought to be out for the entire 2012 season, Carpenter is proceeding toward not only pitching again this month, but in a starting role. After a 51-pitch simulated game on Tuesday, one report suggested the Cardinals planned to have him to throw every fifth day as would be his normal schedule.
Carpenter’s return date to the active major league roster has not been forecast, nor has any potential plan for a rehab stint been disclosed.
Yet, consider the possibilities if such a move was deemed appropriate. The only reasonable fit among Cardinals minor league affiliates still playing is Double-A Springfield. As fate would have it, the S-Cards are the Tulsa Drillers’ current playoff opponent.
Game three of the best-of-five series is scheduled for Springfield’s Hammons Field on Saturday night. Carpenter’s fifth day would be Sunday. Games four and five would also be home contests for the S-Cards on Sunday and Monday, if needed.
A few days ago, I was asked if the rules would allow Carpenter to pitch in rehab for Springfield during the Texas League playoffs. I didn’t know for sure, but questioned the move in the context of fair play in such important games.
Of course, we should remember the top priority is always the needs of the major league club. Tulo’s presence in Tulsa reminds us that is the case – even when his MLB team is mired in last place, 22 games under .500 and 20 games out of first, as is the 2012 Rockies.
In terms of fair play, since the Drillers get to write the name of the Rockies’ best hitter into their post-season lineup, why shouldn’t the Cardinals get to pitch Carpenter against them?
Further, it could be Springfield’s last game of 2012 and therefore Carpenter’s final opportunity to pitch in a minor league tuneup game. For reference, five days after Sunday will be Friday, September 14. At that time, the major league club will playing game two of the crucial four-game Dodgers series in Los Angeles.
In reality, there is no way of knowing if a Sunday game four would be needed, if Tulowitzki would still be with Tulsa this Sunday, or if the Cardinals would send Carpenter to Springfield then.
But if it all came together, wouldn’t it be interesting?