07/11/05 5:30 PM ET
Carpenter's journey reaches pinnacle
After missing two seasons, righty ready for All-Star stage
By John Schlegel / MLB.com
In 2004, Carpenter showed he was back from the shoulder problems, going 15-5 with a 3.46 ERA in 28 starts. He missed the last two weeks of the regular season with what turned out to be nerve irritation in his upper arm, but the impression was made: Carpenter was back.Carpenter, 30, was one of the top pitching prospects in baseball coming up through the Toronto system, so his success when healthy isn't much of a surprise. Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek, who played against Carpenter going back to their days in Double-A, is among those who have had their eye on the 6-foot-6 right-hander ever since. "I've always liked his stuff," Varitek said Monday. "He's got powerful stuff, and he's been able to harness it. He just had some health issues that kept him out, and, for anyone, health is first and foremost." St. Louis and National League skipper Tony La Russa said it wasn't easy to make the call to start Carpenter, what with Roger Clemens, Dontrelle Willis and others putting up first-half performances very much worthy of consideration. As for Willis specifically, there was a method to La Russa's thinking. "We put a lot of things together," La Russa said. "Honestly, there was one edge we hoped to play, and that was knowing that [the Marlins' Paul] Lo Duca would be catching part of the game and we'd have him to catch Dontrelle. So we'll see Dontrelle there somewhere in the middle." Added Edmonds: "Hopefully, Carp gets the recognition he deserves and we're not talking so much about who else could have started. Dontrelle's going to have a few more chances, and this is later in Carp's career, so this is big for him." The only thing that might have been bigger for Carpenter would have been squaring off against one of his best friends -- Jays ace Roy Halladay. But Halladay was knocked out of the All-Star Game when a line drive in Friday's game fractured his left tibia. "I actually talked to him the morning after he got hurt and we were out in San Francisco," Carpenter said. "I didn't know I'd be a starter, but I thought he would." Both deserved it, and a healthy Carpenter got it. "I think it's really a well-deserved honor, and it says a lot when you consider the guys we considered," La Russa said. The road Carpenter traveled to get there says even more.
John Schlegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.