ST. LOUIS (AP) -Chris Carpenter returned to the St. Louis Cardinals clubhouse Thursday to visit with his teammates two days after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
Team physician Dr. George Paletta repaired the ulnar collateral ligament in Carpenter's right elbow Tuesday in St. Louis.
``Everything went good,'' Carpenter said. ``The good thing is that it's done and we got it early. Hopefully, I can be back and play next year.''
The operation usually requires 10-to-12 months of rehabilitation before a pitcher can return to action.
Manager Tony La Russa said his staff ace is always welcome to be with the team. While some players get despondent after a major operation, La Russa said he is confident Carpenter's attitude is good.
``It depends on how a guy handles himself,'' La Russa said, adding that he wouldn't want a depressed pitcher hanging around the clubhouse. ``But with a guy Carp, the more he's around, the better we are.''
Carpenter said he was happy to see his teammates, and was glad he didn't come in Wednesday, the day after the surgery.
``I was on medication. I didn't want to come down here and make a fool of myself. I felt better today and my wife brought me down to see the guys. I just wanted to be around the atmosphere here.''
The surgery ended a frustrating year for Carpenter, whose only appearance was his Opening Day start, a 6-1 loss to the New York Mets. Carpenter allowed five runs in six innings. He reported elbow stiffness and swelling the following day.
``Obviously, it's an unfortunate situation,'' Carpenter said. ``It was something nobody expected to have happen. It's an issue that started off as a bone spur and turned into a ligament problem.''
The 2005 NL Cy Young Award winner had surgery May 8 to remove bone spurs and was on a rehab assignment for Class A Palm Beach when he developed swelling and stiffness July 8.
He's been a big part of the St. Louis starting rotation since he came to the Cardinals as a free agent.
The 32-year-old Carpenter was 3-1 in five postseason starts last year and threw eight scoreless innings against Detroit in Game 3 of the World Series, helping the Cardinals win their first championship in 24 years. He's 51-18 with a 3.10 ERA in 93 starts for St. Louis over the last three seasons.
Carpenter got in touch with former teammate, Matt Morris, who is with San Francisco. Morris has the same surgery in 1999.
``I texted Matty Mo back and forth,'' Carpenter said. ``He had it done here and he's a good friend of mine. I'll be talking to him about how his rehab went because he's came back successfully from it.''
Before signing as a free agent with St. Louis in December 2002, Carpenter went 49-50 with a 4.83 ERA in parts of six seasons for Toronto. He missed part of 2002 and all of '03 after having arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder.
Carpenter had bursitis in his shoulder last seasons, but went 11-6 with a 3.27 ERA in 22 starts after returning from the DL on June 6.

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