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October 9, 2012

Chris Carpenter

WASHINGTON, D.C.: Workout Day

Q.  Just what has it taken to get to this point and have this stage this year.
CHRIS CARPENTER:¬† Well, obviously everybody knows that it wasn't supposed to happen.¬† But I'm excited for it. ¬†Like I said all along, put a lot of work into it, the medical staff put a lot of work into it.¬† The trainers did a great job.¬† And I put a lot of work into it to hopefully have this opportunity; I didn't know if I was going to have this opportunity or not, and fortunately, I do.¬† I'm looking forward to it.¬† If you're not excited about pitching in a game like this, there's no need to play this game.¬† That's what it's all about is coming out and having an opportunity to pitch in the post‑season when everything matters, and hopefully do the best you can to give your team a chance to win.

Q.  You've pitched quite often in your career and not at your best physically; last night we had a situation with Jaime who by his own admission was not right.  As teammates, how do you come down on that decision when you're facing such a big situation like that, and there's a sense of responsibility but at the same time, maybe putting your team at risk, as well.
CHRIS CARPENTER:  Ultimately, you can or you can't.  As an athlete, especially as a professional athlete, we know our bodies, and we know what we can put our bodies through.
You get to a point where you're going to hurt your team and you have to‑‑ it's hard; it's hard to admit that, but because you want to do everything you can.¬† Ultimately he made the right decision.¬† You could tell he wasn't his self, and we all know that he's been battling shoulder stuff for a while now, and to put his team before him, you have to credit that; to get out of there and know that he wasn't going to be effective and give Lance a chance to go in there and shut them down and give us a chance to win that game, because we needed to win that game yesterday.

Q.  You've battled adversity injury in your career and come back numerous times.  What is it about your character or things you experienced early in your career that has enabled you to do this?
CHRIS CARPENTER:¬† That's a great question.¬† I don't know.¬† I played with some great young‑‑ when I was young, some great players that I looked up to; Pat Hankin, Woody Williams, David Wells, Roger Clemens, guys that were ultimate competitors in all kinds of different ways.¬† And I learned a lot from them; how important this game is, how important your day is.¬† Every fifth day, you get one chance of making a statement or give your team or help your team in any way.¬† You make that important.
I continued to make that important.  And with all of these injuries and everything that's gone on in my career, I don't know.  I wasn't ready to stop playing.  I'm still not ready to stop playing.  I enjoy the competition.  I love going out and competing against the best in the world.  And I know that some day it will end, but hopefully it won't end too soon.

Q.¬† The way you guys line up in this rotation now, to win two‑out‑of‑three here, it seems to be pretty favorable for you.¬† How confident are you in the guys you're throwing out there on the mound?
CHRIS CARPENTER:  Well, I unfortunately sat back and watched these guys pitch all year and they did a great job all year.  That's what got us here.  They were consistent through that starting rotation all year long.
You have to take it one game at a time.  These guys on the other side, there's a reason why they won as many games as they did all year.  They have thrown out some pretty good calibre pitches themselves, and a pretty good offense with guys that love to compete.
This is a nice team to compete against, because they all compete pretty much the same way, as our team competes, and that's hard every day, fair, and they play the game the right way.
It's going to be an interesting next two‑out‑of‑three.¬† It will be a lot of fun.¬† I'm not going to say that they don't either.¬† They have got some quality guys.

Q.  A year ago we were talking about all the innings that you had on your shoulder this year; and now the innings you don't have, can you contrast those two things and what it means going into the playoffs, and whether it's an advantage or not that you don't have the mileage.
CHRIS CARPENTER:¬† To be honest with you, I'd much rather have all the innings than not the innings, because you know what you're going to get‑‑ what have I thrown, 17 innings or something.¬† You know, that's not too many innings to work the kinks out in live games.
But I'm confident in my stuff.  My stuff's gotten better each time out.  It was good last time against Cincinnati, and I'm looking forward to it being better this time out, too.  It's hard to contrast.  Like I said, I almost wish I had all the innings, because at least you know what you're going in with.

Q.  I was going to ask about getting better those three starts.  Can you elaborate on the velocity and how you got better over those three?
CHRIS CARPENTER:  The Chicago game, the first time out, there was nothing there.  I was actually pretty surprised because it was worse than any of my simulated games where I didn't know what was going on.  But I made it through, I made my pitches and gave my teammates a chance.  Each time out, my stuff got sharper.  My velocity went up.  My command got better and my endurance got better.
The game in Cincinnati, the first three or so innings, I felt like my old self, and then I started battling a little bit mechanically and physically, but I'm excited about the way I feel.  I'm excited to have this opportunity.

Q.  Was there a point during your rehab or even multiple points where you thought, it's not going to happen?
CHRIS CARPENTER:¬† No.¬† As soon as‑‑ like I said, I've said all along, there was no typical rehab protocol.¬† It wasn't like it was a Tommy John or a shoulder and you can't do anything or you're in a brace.¬† It was basically you have four weeks to let the incision, the scars and the damage and the trauma they did with taking out the rib and muscles and stuff in there to heal.
As soon as that happened, it was time to go.¬† You start strengthening and you start exercising.¬† After the four weeks, I went and actually called the doctor and asked him if I could start running‑‑ before the four weeks I asked him if I could start running, because I just felt like I could do something to start getting better.¬† He had said no.¬† He's like, I would rather you not.¬† And I was like, well, I feel fine, if I can't hurt anything, I want to start.
He's like, well, you can't hurt anything, you're not going to damage anything, just be careful.¬† So I was just, all right, when the guys were on on the road, I would go down to the track down by my house and started running and started getting in shape.¬† Those first few times, breathing with the way the stuff‑‑ the trauma that was going on in here was a little difficult but after a week or so, it got better.¬† I went from that and slowly started strengthening and getting my arm going and everything came back pretty fast.
As soon as that stuff started happening, I felt like I was getting in shape and I knew that my arm strength was getting there, I wasn't concerned about my body.¬† My legs and everything else condition‑wise was fine.¬† I worked hard leading up to surgery to stay in shape.¬† Once my arm started coming back, I knew I was going to press and asked them to see if I could try to get back.

Q.  Mike has mentioned in recent weeks how influential you were with Lance Lynn in August and September, talking him through the transition to bullpen.  Can you convey what message you gave to him and your outlook on his potential?
CHRIS CARPENTER:  Yeah, I love Lance Lynn.  I think he's got an opportunity to be a fantastic one, two guy, starting pitcher, lead guy.  He's got the competitiveness inside him.  He's got the demeanor to do it.
He was going through a tough time.¬† Everybody has to remember, and I said this to a few of the guys; that he's a 25‑year‑old kid.¬† I went through a lot of tough‑‑ this is a hard game.¬† This is his first full year.¬† This isn't an easy game.¬† He goes from thinking he's going to be a reliever to starting and trying to step into my shoes in spring training and turning into an All‑Star; his expectations, he's got things going on on the field, the way he's reacting to umpires or positions that the manager is putting out there.¬† There's all kinds of different things that go through your mind when you're a young kid and you have to learn to control those emotions when you're on the field.
He wasn't controlling them in the right way, and you have to learn from those situations, and he ends up in the bullpen.  I'm proud of him that he's come back and done what he's done, because it takes some edge, it takes some guts to do that.  And my message was to be himself; learn from your mistakes.  You're going to screw up.  People are going to look at you funny.  But be yourself, because you can't go out there and pitch like somebody that you're not.
He's gone back out there with that edge, with that attitude and letting it fly, because that's what he is.

Q.¬† As a baseball fan, a baseball lover yourself, what are your thoughts and feelings of what the Nationals have done this year; almost 80 years without a post‑season game and here they are.
CHRIS CARPENTER:  Yeah, it's great.  Like I said earlier, it's great because they have got a good group of guys over there that really compete hard and compete the way you're supposed to compete.  There's no BS.  They just come to the park every day to play.  That's a reflection of their manager.  He's been around a long time and done a lot of great things, and some of the veterans over there that are leading the young kids.
They have got some talent.  They have some serious talent.  You knew it coming into spring training, everybody was talking about it during the year being a surprise.  We weren't surprised about it, I know that.  We faced them down there in spring, and you start running that pitching staff out there with those young, aggressive hitters.  It's not a surprise to me.  And I am excited for the city.  They have taken it over well, and we needed to have these guys come out and be consistent and put something together and hopefully they can make a run at the playoffs for a long time.

Q.¬† When you've had big games, how do you avoid being over‑amped when you start overthrowing the ball, and how do you keep the emotions in check?
CHRIS CARPENTER:  One, it's called experience, and it happens where you're going to get excited.  There's no question about it.  Like I said, this is what I live for.  I woke up this morning; it's the day before and I got that going in my stomach already.  I couldn't wait to get here and talk to you guys, do my thing.  It's an exciting time.
But you learn how to deal with those distractions.  You have family in town, you're leaving tickets and people everywhere.  Everything's different.  You learn how to deal with it.
Ultimately, this game comes down one thing, and that's executing pitches on my side.  If I can make pitches and I do it the right way, I'm going to have success.  It's how you deal with getting yourself into that situation, that relaxed state to be able to do that.  And it's all mental and you stay out there and you continue to talk to yourself, you continue to make you have the right thoughts in your mind to be able to go out there and execute a pitch, because that's how simple it is.  If you can relax and do it, you'll have success most of the time, and the only way you can do that is if you can get yourself in that spot.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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