(JEFF ROBERSON ~ Associated Press)
By R.B. FALLSTROM
The Associated Press
ST. LOUIS -- Cardinals right-hander Chris Carpenter felt fine after throwing an extended bullpen session Friday and could return to the rotation soon.
Carpenter strained a muscle in his left rib cage April 14. Mitchell Boggs, who had been filling in for Carpenter in the rotation, was optioned to Class AAA Memphis before St. Louis' game against the Milwaukee Brewers, but it'll probably be another week before the ace reclaims his spot.
Boggs was 1-0 with a 3.22 ERA, although he failed to get out of the fifth in his last two starts.
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said Carpenter is scheduled for another bullpen session Tuesday and could return either next Friday or Saturday against the Kansas City Royals.
"What you do is you take it one step at a time," La Russa said. "He took a step today and we'll analyze it. He's supposed to throw on Tuesday and we'll see how that goes."
Carpenter, the 2005 NL Cy Young Award winner, threw four simulated innings in the bullpen. Carpenter said he threw more than 100 pitches, counting warmup tosses, three days after throwing off a mound for the first time since the injury.
"I was just getting an opportunity to throw a little bit more, stretch it out more," Carpenter said. "Everything worked out fine. We did exactly what we wanted to do."
Carpenter is 1-0 and hasn't allowed an earned run in 10 innings over two starts. He's on the disabled list for the eighth time since 1999 after making only four appearances last year following reconstructive elbow surgery.
The St. Louis bullpen allowed two hits in 4 2/3 scoreless innings Thursday after Boggs faltered in a 5-1 victory at Pittsburgh. Because of days off this week and next, La Russa said he wouldn't have gotten a shot to start again for a while.
The next opening has Carpenter's name on it. He said his command was better than his first time off the mound, and added he doesn't think he needs a rehab assignment.
"Is it the last step? It's up to them," Carpenter said. "I don't need to face hitters to know if I'm ready to go."
St. Louis activated infielder Brendan Ryan from the 15-day disabled list. He had been sidelined with a hamstring injury.
The Cardinals returned to 12 pitchers and 13 position players after recently completing a stretch of 20 games without a day off.