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October 14, 2012

Chris Carpenter


Q.  Where are you at just kind of physically now that you've got a few starts under your belt?  Does this feel like a month into the season or can you compare it to previous years and where you're at in that regard?
CHRIS CARPENTER:  I feel good physically.  I think my stuff has gotten better and better.  And I'm hoping that that's the case for this next one here.  And still mechanically at times I'm fighting stuff.  But you do that all year, anyway.  I'm happy with where I'm at.

Q.  When you go through an injury like that where people are saying could be till Spring Training until you come back, how important is it for you and how much did you say, I don't care what they say, I'm going to pitch this year; how much was that mentality a part of your rehab?
CHRIS CARPENTER:  Well, my goal, I said all along, was to be able to know going into the off‑season whether or not I was going to be able to help this ballclub next year.  But as we came out of the surgery and started the rehab process, I felt inside that there was a shot, especially if we got here.
The only thing is we're going to run out of time and not be able to get me any starts in.  Fortunately the process went quickly.  And as we started to press we all decided that it was ‑‑ there was going to be a chance, so why not.  And I'm fortunate to have this opportunity again.

Q.  Could you put maybe in layman's terms what exactly was the procedure, what did they do, and also how in retrospect were you able to pitch with this condition for so long and do it so well?
CHRIS CARPENTER:  You know, I don't know, I'll answer the first one ‑‑ the second question first.  I'm not sure.  We dealt with this back in 2008, but at that time the symptoms weren't as bad and it was actually to me the way it was presented I was a lot more scared about the situation and the outcome of the surgery.  I wasn't ready to pull the trigger to do that.
So I rehabbed and got better.  I still had issues, just like everybody else deals with arm stuff and soreness, and there were times when my hand would be numb or I'd be tingling in my arm, but deal with it and keep on going.
I finally got to the point where I couldn't do it anymore because it was just constantly numb, almost like sleeping, then it started going up into my face and stuff.  So I was like I'm not going to do it.
So I revisited the surgery again and the way it was presented to me this time was a little better.  I wasn't as scared as much.  It was the last shot.  I wanted to try to pitch again.  If I didn't have this surgery I wasn't going to be able to do it.  Not saying that if I had the surgery it was going to allow me to pitch again anyways, but I was going to give it one last shot.  I didn't want to stop playing.  I wanted to go out and compete.
And I felt like if it did work, my stuff was good enough to do that, especially with the year I had last year.  And I also felt like it was fair to our organization that has invested ‑‑ Mr. DeWitt and the Cardinals have invested a lot into me, and I felt an obligation to go ahead and invest my body back into them a little bit and see what happens.

Q.  What specifically did they do?
CHRIS CARPENTER:  So they go in ‑‑ there's ‑‑ now I have a scar, here, above my collarbone.  They go in there, they take out your first rib, which is underneath your collarbone with a pair of like hedge clipping looking things.  And they also release and take out ‑‑ you have three scalene muscles, small little neck muscles, they take out the front one and the middle one, they get rid of those, because that's where the artery and the nerve go through when they come out of your neck.  Those muscles, just like any other thing, if you work them they'll grow and get bigger.
It got to the point where there was so much scarring and they had gotten so big that there was no room for my nerves to pass through there.  And it was scarring them down and holding them down.  So it was cutting them off, so they weren't working properly.  They went and did all that, cleaned it up, and got the scar tissue out of there.  And we'll see what happens.  Here I am.

Q.  Momentum is only as good as the next day's starting pitcher.  Do you buy into that, sort of accept that responsibility?
CHRIS CARPENTER:  Do I buy into it ‑‑

Q.  Do you buy into that theory?
CHRIS CARPENTER:  I don't know.  I think it's how you play each game.  You think you're going into the last game, Game 5 against Washington, we ‑‑ nobody expected to go out and get six runs in one inning or two, whatever.  And we still won that game.  There's no question it might set the tone a little bit.
At this time of the year everything matters.  It doesn't matter who's starting, what's going on.  You need breaks, you need a little luck and you need to go out and do the things the right way.  So I don't buy into anything.

Q.  Lynn was in here yesterday, young pitchers are told to throw what Yadi tells them.  When you were here when he first came up, how have you seen that evolve and how has he grown as a guy who you can just turn the game over to like so many of the pitchers have?
CHRIS CARPENTER:  The respect that, first of all, I have for Yadi (Molina) is amazing.  He's an amazing player, amazing competitor.  And his preparation level, and I think that's probably where that goes into, his preparation level is just as great as anyone.  He watches as much video, does as much chart work, everything you can think of he goes into a game with.  So I know that he's done as much research and as much work as I have, and I know what he's going to put down.
He's so good at recognizing and knowing how to control the ballgame, you don't have to concern yourself with it.  And it definitely helps the young kids, there's no question about that.  I mean, do I ever shake him off?  Absolutely.  But not very often.

Q.  You were pretty vocal in the dugout the other night.  On the days you pitch how vocal are you?  In a game like tomorrow do you have to be careful how much you do that because you've got to focus on what you're doing?
CHRIS CARPENTER:  I'm not vocal during the games that I pitch.  I'm vocal with myself, but not with anybody else.  I do my own thing and let the other guys on the bench control that.

Q.  You mentioned the word "fear" before aboutfacing that surgery, but way back.  You've had such a desire to pitch.  When you have to face the possibility that this could be it for your career, is that ‑‑ does that different kind of fear come back, that oh, my goodness, this is what I do, this could be taken away?
CHRIS CARPENTER:  Yeah, there's no question.  And I said it last week or something, eventually it's going to come to an end.  I just didn't want it to.  And the fear does come back.  I'm going into that surgery saying, okay, this is it.  It was it.  It was either going to work or not work, see what happens.  There was some fear involved in it.

Q.  In the clubhouse after the game Friday night you seemed particularly adamant about not starting that celebration until Descalso and Kozma got there.  Your thoughts about that and those guys, particularly what they did that night.
CHRIS CARPENTER:  They were great.  It was a lot of fun to watch them do what they do.  There was not a way we were going to start the celebration without our whole team there.  Unfortunately they had to stay on the field and do all the media stuff.  We're a ballclub.  We're one team and everybody contributes.  It just wasn't going to happen.  I wasn't going to let it happen.

Q.  How much different do you think your sort of presence, personality, role in the clubhouse, all that is now, as opposed to when you came to this club eight or nine years ago?
CHRIS CARPENTER:  Well, I came in 2003 and I was just trying to reinvent myself and figure out what I was doing.  That was at another time where I didn't know if I was going to play or not with the shoulder surgery.  But I was able to come over and be myself and not try to be anybody else except for myself.
And I learned from Dunc (Dave Duncan) and Tony (LaRussa) and being able to be around Woody (Williams) again and Mike (Matheny) again, I spent a little bit of time in Toronto with him, but the professionalism, Matt Morris, you start learning again, and I mean my presence has changed because I'm the only one left.  So it's definitely changed.  I feel like I'm a St. Louis Cardinal.  I feel like I always will be in the organization and the clubhouse, the team, I love it all and I enjoy being in there and I think my presence has changed a lot just because I've been here that long.

Q.  Can you just share some of what Mike Matheny brought to this club, and whether it's a big difference after all those years with Tony?
CHRIS CARPENTER:  I said all along, me coming here, Tony changed my career just like Dave Duncan did.  They put the competition back into being No. 1 and really taught me how to go out and do the things I need to do to be successful.
That being said, when they hired Mike they couldn't have ‑‑ they could not have picked a better person, a better man, a better leader.  I've known him since, I think I played with him in '99 in Toronto.  And you knew ‑‑ and he was a backup catcher at that point in time.  He's a presence.  He walks into the clubhouse as a backup catcher and you still ‑‑ he was still an amazing presence.  And it just comes out of him.  You can see it.  You can feel it.  He walks into a room and he can take it over.
Playing with him here in St. Louis was awesome, because he was actually able to show who he is and what he does, because he got to play.  He was just a phenomenal player.  And then he comes in and takes this role over.
He's different because it's new to him.  He's going to be himself.  He's going to do the things that he believes are correct.  Baseball is baseball, you know, that's how he controls and leads the clubhouse.  He does it a different way than Tony did.  But he does it the right way, too, and it's awesome.

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