Carpenter feel good story of season

The recovery of Cardinals right-hander Chris Carpenter from two seasons worth of arm injuries for me is the feel good story of a season, during which I’ve also dealt with a myriad of heath issues and tried to remain working.

At this writing, he’s 16-4 with a 2.45 ERA, having spent a stint on the DL, dealing with an oblique injury. He looks as good as he did back in his 2005 National League Cy Young Award season and 2006 when he helped pitch the Cardinals to the World Series title.

“With everything I’ve been through in my career I love going out there,” Carpenter said when I talked to him last month after another brilliant start in San Diego. “I don’t take anything for granted. I treat every start like it’s the last time I’m ever going to pitch.”

That is rare, as Mike Hampton would agree. Hampton had surgery again this week on his left shoulder, which revealed a completely torn rotator cuff. He wants to pitch again, but he’s out for 2010 and still has surgeries on both knees to come. That will make it nine surgeries for Hampton since he signed a mega contract with the Rockies in 2001.

I applaud Hampton for keeping up the good fight. What Carpenter is doing is a real inspiration to me because I know how much work it took to make it back. I’ve had to make it back from four surgeries since Feb. 4, 2008, and I’m just a writer. I don’t have to whip my body into the condition to compete at baseball’s highest level. I just need to stay in some sort of modicum of shape. Carpenter has not only done that, but he’s returned to elite status. When he’s on, he has a drop-dead curveball, the best I’ve seen since Sandy Koufax used to drop them over the plate when I saw him pitch as a kid.

With apologies to his teammate Adam Wainwright (18-7) and Giants right-hander Tim Lincecum (14-5), Carpenter is my Cy Young Award winner this season. Also add Comeback Player of the Year honors in the Senior Circuit.

Keep it up, Chris, and here’s hoping you can ward off any more injuries. It’s great to see a good guy overcome and continue to excel.

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