Carpenter does some throwing on the side

JUPITER, Fla. -- Cardinals manager Tony La Russa looked the members of his small audience in the eye as long as he could before his attention was required elsewhere. His Opening Day starter was throwing in the bullpen. Not warming up, just throwing. But on this Florida Sunday, seeing Chris Carpenter upright and moving was almost as good as it gets for the Cardinals.

Carpenter felt a slight tug in his left hamstring, the muscle he strained earlier in the week. But the condition of his hammy had improved enough that he felt he could and should throw a few. "It's good enough," was as much as Carpenter would allow. He hardly seemed concerned about the Opening Day assignment awaiting him in the absence of Adam Wainwright.

"I'm used to coming back from injuries. I'll be fine," Carpenter said. He was more intent on keeping his arm strong than recovering. "That's why throwing today was important. Just to keep my arm progressing."

La Russa said his pitcher won't be rushed back, and that no pitching will be scheduled until the hamstring is fully recovered. "He'll have treatments and work out as he can tolerate."

Some managers believe a starting pitcher must accumulate a specific number of innings -- 27 to 30 -- in exhibition games. If Carpenter misses another start, he probably won't approach those figures. La Russa seemed unfazed.

"The more veteran [the pitcher]," the manager said, "the more he's got in his knowledge that he's going to be fine."

And who could argue that?

Cards cut nine from spring roster

JUPITER, Fla. -- No manager enjoys the cuts that must be made during Spring Training. They are necessary evils, though, and over the years, one or two have more evil involved than others.

So it was in the late '70s when George Bamberger was the Brewers manager and he called a young pitcher to his office to deliver the bad -- but inevitable --- news. Bamberger laid it on thick.

"We like you, son. We're sure you're going to help us. You've come a long way. But right now, the best thing for you would be to pitch regularly in Triple-A and ..."

Before Bamberger could complete his thought, the pitcher reached into his back pocket and pulled out a knife.

"You cut me," he said, "I'll cut you."

Now Bamberger wasn't quite sure how serious to take the threat, But being a man who knew his resources, he said one word aloud: "Hondo."

In walked 6-foot-8, 315-pound Frank Howard. That's not a knife, this is a Hondo. End of threat, end of story. Bamberger never said whether the young man's career also ended at that point.

Now, nothing comparable developed Sunday when the Cardinals made their first cuts of the spring. Manager Tony La Russa, who smiled at the Bambi-Hondo anecdote, said "It probably did happen," and left the Cardinals' complex safely and without incident.

These are the cuts made Sunday: Infielders Zack Cox and Donovan Solano; catchers Nick Derba, Robert Stock, Audry Perez and Steven Hill and pitchers Kevin Thomas, Shelby Miller and Scott McGregor.

Thomas pitched the first two innings of the Cardinals' rain-shortened 7-2 loss to the Marlins on Sunday. He allowed three hits, two walks and a run. Miller is the club's primary pitching prospect. Each was assigned to the Minor League camp. Cox was the only player cut who is on the 40-man roster, so he was optioned to Triple-A.