Though it will never be proven conclusively, I believe that 38-year-old Chris Carpenter shot his final bullets in a final blaze of glory as he led the St. Louis Cardinals to the 2011 World Championship.
Despite an inspirational comeback after surgery in an attempt to relieve the numbing symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome, Carpenter was relatively ineffective in the final days of the 2012 season and the playoffs.
Unable to pitch in the spring again in 2013, the veteran right-hander’s career was deemed to be likely over due to continued nerve-related weakness and swelling in his neck, shoulder, arm and hand.
Carpenter did not get the memo – or if he did, he refused to read it. He gamely attempted a July rehab stint in the minor leagues, but the results were not there. After two outings, the numbness returned and Carpenter was shut down. He ended the season as essentially a non-playing player-coach.
Rather than repeat Carpenter’s many career accomplishments, I direct you to this article in which I documented his highlights, stats, awards, contracts, injury history and more: “Carpenter’s career in words and images”.
His retirement was first disclosed by his agent, then later confirmed by Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak. Carpenter himself has yet to meet with the media to confirm his plans personally. When that does occur, the occasion will likely be topped off with good news.
The Cardinals would like Carpenter to remain in the organization and he has expressed an interest as well. If that occurs, details will be disclosed later this winter. Either way, Carpenter was one of the club’s toughest and best competitors ever.