LOS ANGELES — Chris Carpenter's season-long journey back to the majors will finally end this week.
After a successful bullpen session over the weekend, the Cardinals ace will make his first start of the season Friday against the Cubs.
"I'm looking forward to getting back out there. I'm excited to get back out there," the right-hander told the St. Louis Post Dispatch. "I've put in a lot of hard work to get this done. It wasn't expected and I'm just fortunate to have the opportunity to pitch again."
Carpenter recovered well from Saturday's 90-pitch simulated game in the bullpen, manager Mike Matheny said.
Carpenter, who hasn't pitched since Game 7 of the 2011 World Series, had surgery in July to correct thoracic outlet syndrome, a condition that compressed nerves which led to weakness and numbness in parts of his body. The surgery, which entailed the removal of one of Carpenter's ribs, was supposed to be season-ending and, given his age (37), possibly career-ending.
Carpenter urged the club to give him an opportunity to prove that he could contribute this season as well as next. Saturday marked his fourth simulation against hitters.
"I feel good," said Carpenter, the 2005 NL Cy Young Award winner. "No problems."
CONCERN FOR KERSHAW: Dodgers LHP Clayton Kershaw could be out until mid May if he needs surgery on his right hip, the Los Angeles Times reported. The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner was scratched from his start Sunday because of hip pain and is scheduled to receive a second opinion today.
MARLINS REST SLUGGER: RF Giancarlo Stanton was not in Miami's starting lineup against the Braves, getting a day to rest what he and the team described as a strained muscle in his side. Stanton pointed to his right side when describing the injury, and manager Ozzie Guillen described it as an oblique strain, though the team's official announcement was that Stanton had "left intercostal soreness."
OBITUARY: Tom Saffell, a former major-league outfielder and longtime Gulf Coast Rookie League president, died last week in Sarasota. He was 91. The Sarasota Herald-Tribune said he developed pneumonia after having surgery for a broken hip sustained in a fall.
BRAVES: C Brian McCann, who has been limited to pinch-hitting duties since tweaking his right hamstring Sept. 12, won't return to the starting lineup for at least a couple more days, MLB.com reported.
METS: 1B Ike Davis will platoon with Lucas Duda for the rest of the season, with Duda getting the bulk of the at-bats against left-handers, manager Terry Collins said.
NATIONALS: 2B Danny Espinosa will be out for at least three games with left shoulder pain and was scheduled for an MRI exam. Espinosa, who has played with pain for the past week, went 0-for-11 with nine strikeouts during the Braves' three-game weekend sweep.
PHILLIES: All-Star 2B Chase Utley could see time at third base this season, manager Charlie Manuel told CSNPhilly.com. "We could," Manuel said. "It depends on where we are. The next week will tell us where we are, probably. … We're going to run out of season pretty soon."
PIRATES: RH reliever Evan Meek, an All-Star in 2010, passed through waivers a week after being designated for assignment and was outrighted to Triple-A Indianapolis.
RANGERS: Injured RHP Colby Lewis agreed to a one-year contract extension. Lewis, who could have been a free agent after this season, was 6-6 with a 3.43 ERA in 16 starts before surgery in July to repair a torn flexor tendon in his right elbow. … LHP Scott Feldman was pulled from the starting rotation and replaced by rookie LHP Martin Perez.
TIGERS: C Alex Avila was out of the lineup after a day after he collided with 1B Prince Fielder while chasing a foul ball.