ST. LOUIS (AP) -St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter played catch for the first time in two weeks on Tuesday, testing an elbow injury that has sidelined him since the season opener.
Carpenter, a 15-game winner last year and the NL Cy Young winner in 2005, made about 45 throws from flat ground while gradually increasing the distance to 120 feet. If all goes well he'll play catch on Wednesday, more long toss on Thursday, and then throw off a mound on Saturday.
Team medical personnel are hopeful rest and therapy will allow Carpenter to get through the season without surgery. Pitching coach Dave Duncan said Carpenter's workload on Saturday would approximate warmups for a starting assignment.
``Each day you find out how he's feeling, you progressively increase the effort level, and that will be a big date,'' Duncan said. ``If he comes back from that without any problems, that's a good sign.''
Carpenter has been on the 15-day disabled list since April 2 with persistent swelling caused by bone spurs combined with mild arthritis.
Carpenter reported no problems Tuesday. Then again, he had no issues on opening day, when he gave up five runs in six innings in a loss to the Mets, until after he got home and noticed the elbow had puffed up. He had the same issue after throwing in the bullpen on April 7, and went on the DL the next day.
``You have to wait for something to react,'' Carpenter said. ``It's not going to react until after you do it.
``One positive thing is not throwing for 14 days, I felt strong and my arm felt real good. My shoulder felt strong so I was excited about that.''
Both Duncan and manager Tony La Russa said the team would not rush Carpenter back to the rotation. Carpenter said he'd probably need a second bullpen session and La Russa said it would be difficult to go ``from standing still to a full sprint.''
``I'm excited, but I was excited the last time, too,'' Carpenter said. ``I felt great and had a good side, so we'll see what happens this time.
``Either I'm going to be able to throw without it swelling or I'm not.''
Carpenter met with Dr. George Paletta, the team's medical supervisor, on Monday for what he termed a progress report.
``There's no exams or checkups,'' he said. ``It's just a matter of how I feel and how I look.''
Journeyman Randy Keisler has replaced Carpenter in the rotation, with no record and a 4.09 ERA in two starts. Keisler starts again on Thursday.

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