WASHINGTON -- Cardinals right-hander Chris Carpenter knows better than most what Stephen Strasburg is going through. Not that anyone knows exactly what it's like to be the Nationals phenom right now, but Carpenter has a better idea than many people do.
Carpenter was a heavily hyped pitching prospect, though nowhere near the way Strasburg is. Carpenter had elbow surgery early in his career, as well as major shoulder surgery and finally Tommy John surgery in 2007. So it made sense that Strasburg sought out Carpenter on Friday, the day after he learned he would likely need Tommy John surgery. Carpenter was happy to provide some guidance, and in the process came away impressed with the youngster.
"He came up with a lot of pressure, a lot of expectations, huge hype and he was living up to it," Carpenter said. "And this shows how quick it can go. Hopefully he realizes to enjoy it, don't take anything for granted, because as fast as it can come is as fast as it can go.
"But he'll be fine. This surgery, not everybody, but most everybody comes back from it. He's a young kid. He seems like he's got a great head on his shoulders. He's got to, to be able to handle the stuff that he's been handling so far throughout his short career. If he works hard, he'll be fine."
Carpenter said his main point of emphasis to Strasburg is that the operation is not a career death sentence, and that if Strasburg works hard and trusts the people helping him, he'll come out of it all just fine.
But he also sympathizes, knowing what a scare it can be to face a year of rehab.
"Things like this happen," Carpenter said. "With everything that's been put on this kid, ultimately he's a human being and he's a kid that wants to play baseball. So no matter how much everybody around him sees him as this super-whatever, super guy, he's still a 22-year-old kid that has a couple months in the big leagues, and all he wants to do is play. That's tough. It hits you hard because you know you're not going to do anything for a year."
Pujols, Holliday both return to lineup
WASHINGTON -- The Cardinals breathed a collective sigh of relief when the team's top two hitters were both healthy enough to appear in the starting lineup for Friday night's game against the Nationals.
Both Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday checked out as OK to play, a night after both suffered injuries in a 13-inning, 11-10 loss. Holliday was hit on the left hand by a pitch, and removed from the Thursday game. Pujols remained in the game after he turned his right ankle trying to catch a foul popup.
"Sore but playable," manager Tony La Russa said. "Happily and fortunately."
Pujols had a significant wrap on his ankle in the clubhouse on Friday afternoon, but was moving reasonably well and said he's in some pain but not too compromised.
"It's sore, but I think I can play through," he said. "I have a little bit of swelling on the right side and underneath the bone, but I think it's something I can play through. Tape it up and hopefully in the next couple days, with treatment, it gets better."
Sore Molina gets day to rest right knee
WASHINGTON -- Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina was held out of Friday night's starting lineup at Nationals Park due to soreness in his right knee. Molina hurt his knee legging out a single in the 12th inning of Thursday's 11-10 loss to the Nationals. He stepped awkwardly on first base.
Molina said that he felt fine when he left the park on Thursday, but that on Friday the knee felt worse. As a result, he was kept out of the lineup, with Bryan Anderson starting in his place. It marked the first time all season that someone other than Molina caught one of the Cards' top three starters (Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter and Jaime Garcia).
"After I ran the base, I felt it a little bit, but I kept playing," he said. "After the game, I didn't feel anything. But this morning, I felt it a little bit."
Molina and manager Tony La Russa both hoped he would be available as soon as Saturday.
Nick Stavinoha stayed torrid with two doubles and the game's only RBI as Triple-A Memphis beat Round Rock, 1-0, on Thursday. Five pitchers combined on the shutout. ... Andrew Brown homered for Double-A Springfield's only run in a 6-1 loss to Northwest Arkansas. ... Class A Palm Beach dropped a doubleheader to Fort Myers, 4-1 and 7-3. Niko Vasquez and Alex Castellanos each doubled in both halves of the twinbill. ... Class A Quad Cities split a doubleheader with Clinton, winning, 5-4, and losing, 6-3. Colin Walsh started one game at second and one game at third and went 3-for-5 with two walks on the day. ... Short-season Batavia also split a doubleheader, with a 6-3 win and a 2-1 loss against Williamsport. Victor Sanchez was a combined 4-for-6 on the day. ... Greg Garcia was 3-for-4 with a homer and a double, helping Rookie-level Johnson City beat Princeton, 6-1.
The Player of the Day is Johnson City pitcher Boone Whiting, who pitched six shutout innings. Tyrell Jenkins pitched one inning as the starter in his pro debut, then handed over to Whiting, who was superb. The right-hander allowed six hits but no walks, striking out eight. Whiting, who turned 21 last week, was an 18th-round pick in this year's First-Year Player Draft. He's 5-2 in 12 appearances for Johnson City with a 3.57 ERA, 66 strikeouts and five walks in 53 innings.
Felipe Lopez was back in the Cardinals' lineup on Friday, playing second base, a day after manager Tony La Russa speculated Lopez might have been dealing with arm trouble. Lopez was removed from Thursday night's loss to Washington in the fourth inning after committing a throwing error. Lopez said Friday that he's feeling fine. ... La Russa indicated that the Cards didn't have much interest in former Rockies outfielder Brad Hawpe, who has joined the Rays. ... Tyrell Jenkins, the Cardinals' third pick (supplemental first round) in the June First-Year Player Draft, made his professional debut on Thursday for Rookie-level Johnson City. He pitched one perfect inning, striking out one.
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.