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Cardinals Announce Carpenter 'Unlikely' To Pitch In 2013

UPI/Bill Greenblatt

Updated at 3 p.m. with quotes from Matheny, Mozeliak, and at 4:20 p.m. to correct typographical errors.

For the third year in the row, the St. Louis Cardinals will go into spring training missing an ace pitcher.

The team announced this morning that Chris Carpenter is "unlikely to pitch" in the 2013 season, and quite possibly for longer.

General manager John Mozeliak says the 37-year-old is experiencing the same numbness and pain in his neck, shoulder and arm that led him to miss almost all of the 2012 season and undergo surgery in July.

"He will be given an opportunity to seek medical evaluations by our team physicians, and our hope is that we can find if there's any resolution to this, but at this time, I doubt that's going to happen," Mozeliak said.

Mozeliak did not use the word "retirement" - he said Carpenter would be placed on the team's disabled list. But he did not sound confident that Carpenter would ever stand on a mound again.

"Right now, I think what he wants to do is make sure that whatever's going on in his neck, shoulder and arm isn't going to preclude him from having a normal after-career life," Mozeliak said. He said in addition to the past numbness and "zingers," Carpenter was beginning to see some bruising and redness in his shoulder and hand after throwing a bullpen session.

Mozeliak and manager Mike Matheny have yet to speak to Carpenter face-to-face. But the general manager said Carpenter sounded teary-eyed on the phone.

"I think he felt like to some degree he was letting us down," Mozeliak said. "I assured him that nothing could be further from the truth."

Manager Mike Matheny says Carpenter was fully expecting to pitch this season. 

"It's a lot crashing down on him right now," Matheny said. "He has a passion for the game, to compete. Everyone has seen that. He has a passion for this team, and the players, and his role as a mentor is something that he takes very seriously."

Both Matheny and Mozeliak say they're confident in the pitching staff that will report to Jupiter, Fla. next week for spring training, but may bring in a free agent if he is the right fit. Mozeliak refused to talk specifically about Kyle Lohse, the former Cardinal who remains without a contract.

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.