JUPITER — Chris Carpenter noticed a crowd was steadily building behind the chain-link fence. Seems word had spread that the Cardinals ace was doing some throwing.
These days, even playing a few minutes of catch is a big deal.
"Amazing, isn't it? Did I do okay?" Carpenter asked afterward.
The reigning World Series champions certainly hope Carpenter did since their rotation to open the season may depend on how he feels over the next few days. Carpenter's few minutes of catch with teammate Jake Westbrook on Wednesday may be considered a positive sign for the Cardinals, who have dealt with a flurry of injuries in camp, the status of the guy who won Game 7 of last year's World Series most prominently.
Carpenter took a spot in leftfield, alternating throws from between roughly 60 and 90 feet with Westbrook off the flat grass. No one, including Carpenter, can say for certain what the next step in his recovery from a sore neck caused by a bulging disc will be, and the April 4 season opener at the Marlins is looming fast.
"You're always frustrated if you can't play," Carpenter said after the throws. "I want to play, and I haven't been able to yet this spring. That's not what you're looking for, coming to spring training and not being able to get ready for the season. So there's always frustration. But you deal with it and move on and get ready to go."
METS SAGA: A federal judge said Mets owners must show a jury next week they weren't willfully blind to a gigantic fraud carried out by their friend, Bernard Madoff. Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan said in a two-page order that the burden will rest with the owners rather than a trustee recovering money on behalf of thousands of cheated Madoff investors.
ANGELS: First baseman Albert Pujols hit his first two homers with Los Angeles and right-hander Ervin Santana exited after being hit by a line drive in a 9-7 loss to the White Sox. Santana left with a bruised right arm after Alexei Ramirez's liner struck him in the shoulder with one out in the second. He said no X-ray was planned.
ASTROS: Catcher Landon Powell, who was released by the A's last week, signed a minor-league contract.
GIANTS: Catcher Buster Posey, coming back from a serious leg injury, homered as the DH for his first spring hit in a 2-2, 10-inning tie with the Indians.
MARLINS: Reserve infielder Greg Dobbs was diagnosed with a partially torn left hamstring, jeopardizing his chances of making the opening day roster.
METS: Third baseman David Wright's left rib cage injury was diagnosed as a muscle tear, but he said he'll be ready by opening day. … Bullpen catcher Eric Langill, who was charged with DUI over the weekend after flipping his car, was suspended without pay for seven days.
ORIOLES: Rightfielder Nick Markakis made his spring debut after having abdominal surgery in January, going 0-for-2 as the DH and saying afterward that he felt fine. He's scheduled to play the outfield today. … Backup catcher Taylor Teagarden is expected to be sidelined for several weeks with a slight ligament tear in his lower back.
RANGERS: Leftfielder Josh Hamilton, the former Rays top prospect, left the game against the Rockies in the top of the second inning because of a jammed right heel.
REDS: Left-hander Aroldis Chapman pitched more than two innings in a big-league game for the first time, allowing one run in three innings against the Padres.
ROYALS: Catcher Salvador Perez plans to have left knee surgery to repair a lateral meniscus tear and likely will be out several weeks.
TIGERS: Right-hander Jacob Turner, one of the team's top prospects, has tendinitis in his right shoulder and will be shut down for a week.