Carpenter, Boggs exit spring outings early
Both pitchers' injuries thought to be minor
JUPITER, Fla. -- An already trying spring for the Cardinals took another distressing turn on Tuesday when two pitchers were removed from the team's Grapefruit League game against the Marlins due to injuries.
Former Cy Young winner Chris Carpenter was pulled in the third inning after suffering a strained left hamstring, while reliever Mitchell Boggs came out an inning later with a lower back strain. Both injuries are believed to be relatively minor, but at this point, every ache and pain in Cardinals camp is instantly worrisome.
"[We] kind of held our breath, came in here, and our doctors and trainers say that they're minor," manager Tony La Russa said. "So it looks like we caught a break."
Carpenter expressed only minimal worry about his injury, speaking with reporters not long after he was pulled from the game. He took questions while standing in front of his locker with a wrap on his left leg.
"I threw a pitch and felt a little twinge in my hamstring," Carpenter said. "I tried to throw one more and it didn't feel real good, so I came out. I don't think it's very bad. I'm not concerned about it."
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"I couldn't throw," he said. "The next pitch I could barely even put my foot on the ground. I wasn't going to blow it out totally just to get one more out in the first Spring Training game."
Carpenter had breezed through 2 2/3 innings with scarcely a hiccup before he walked Marlins outfielder Chris Coghlan. After the final pitch of Coghlan's plate appearance, Carpenter walked off the mound, and head athletic trainer Greg Hauck came out to check on him. With virtually no delay, Carpenter headed for the dugout.
Though Carpenter has frequently dealt with muscle cramps in the past, he was quick to refute the idea that this might be a cramp. He classified it as a hamstring strain, but said he did not know anything about how much time he might miss. Pitching coach Dave Duncan said that Carpenter would likely miss one start, but that it was possible he could be back for his next rotation turn after that.
"I don't feel it a whole lot right now, so that's a good thing," Carpenter said.
"I have never done this before, so I have no idea. I'm sure [the trainers] can give me some sort of more info tomorrow, but as of right now, when they evaluated me they weren't too concerned about it."
Boggs came in to replace Carpenter and received an extended warmup time because of the injury. Boggs struck out Donnie Murphy to end the inning. Carpenter was tended to in the dugout for the remainder of the inning, then left for the Cardinals' clubhouse with Hauck.
With one out in the fourth and an 0-2 count to John Buck, Boggs pulled up in distress, reaching for his lower back. He was removed without throwing another pitch, and was replaced by left-hander Brian Tallet.
"It's just one of those situations where I've been dealing with a little bit of lower back tightness, and I just threw that one pitch and felt it a little bit more than I'd like to," Boggs said. "So I'm going to get the treatment done if we need to. They [the training staff] have been positive, so I don't see any reason why it should be too serious at all."
Though Boggs' injury initially appeared to be more worrisome than Carpenter's, La Russa and Duncan both seemed to downplay the severity. Duncan even posited that the reliever could be back within a few days.
Already this spring, the Cardinals have lost co-ace Adam Wainwright to a season-ending elbow injury and infielder Nick Punto for 2-3 months due to a sports hernia. In addition to the trials on the field, Drew Baur, one of the central members of the team's ownership group, passed away on Feb. 20.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Obviously, You're Not a Golfer and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewHLeach. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.