Using Woody to estimate Carp’s return

Waiting for official news from injured St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Chris Carpenter’s return to St. Louis for further medical evaluation may take a day or so. In the interim, we can speculate a bit based on early information from the club.

Former Cardinals hurler Woody Williams (pictured in 2002) was mentioned by general manager John Mozeliak as a comparable situation to Carpenter’s left ribcage or oblique injury suffered on Tuesday night in Arizona.

The specifics are this: Williams went onto the disabled list on July 7, 2002 and remained there for 53 days, coming off on August 29. Projecting that timetable into 2009 would have Carp returning on or about June 1, missing approximately eight starts or one-quarter of the season considering a normal five-man rotation.

Looking at Williams’ game logs from 2002, he carried a 2.35 ERA into his DL stint. In his return on August 29, he was touched up for five runs on eight hits in four innings. It was his worst outing of the season by a considerable margin.

However, Woody bounced back quickly, allowing just one run over his next 18 innings and three starts, all wins. Williams finished the 2002 regular season with a 2.53 ERA.

At the time of his injury, Williams was 35 years of age, actually marking his 36th birthday while on the disabled list. Carpenter, now 33, will turn 34 on the 27th of this month, most likely also while on the shelf. In fact, 2009 will mark Carp’s third consecutive birthday “celebrated” from the vantage of the disabled list.

What does all this mean for the oft-injured Carpenter and the 2009 Cardinals? Only time will tell.