Chris Carpenter

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Ever the competitor, Cardinals right-handed pitcher Chris Carpenter isn't entirely ruling out returning to the mound this season.

Carpenter, 37, is battling recurring pain and numbness in his throwing shoulder, as well as discoloration in his hand. The team announced last week that he's unlikely to pitch in 2013.

"I can't pitch with the way that I feel right now," Carpenter said. "It's not fair to anyone."

UPI/Bill Greenblatt

Updated at 3 p.m. with quotes from Matheny, Mozeliak, and at 4:20 p.m. to correct typographical errors.

For the third year in the row, the St. Louis Cardinals will go into spring training missing an ace pitcher.

The team announced this morning that Chris Carpenter is "unlikely to pitch" in the 2013 season, and quite possibly for longer.

General manager John Mozeliak says the 37-year-old is experiencing the same numbness and pain in his neck, shoulder and arm that led him to miss almost all of the 2012 season and undergo surgery in July.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Matt Carpenter always tries to stay ready, keeping an assortment of gloves nearby. That's his job.

The St. Louis Cardinals' utilityman took on a new role in Game 3 of the NL championship series: game-changer.

Carpenter hit a two-run homer after subbing for Carlos Beltran and the Cardinals chased Matt Cain before a 3 1/2-hour rain delay in the seventh inning of a 3-1 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday night for a 2-1 series lead.

UPI/Bill Greenblatt

Cards clinch NL wild card

Chris Carpenter and the St. Louis Cardinals completed one of the more remarkable comebacks in baseball history, clinching the NL wild card Wednesday night with an 8-0 win over Houston and a later loss by Atlanta.

The Cardinals got their playoff spot when the Braves fell to Philadelphia 4-3 in 13 innings. St. Louis trailed Atlanta by 10 1/2 games on Aug. 25. The Cardinals won 23 of their last 31 games.