Chris Carpenter realizes his baseball career may be over.
The 37-year-old right-hander made a surprise appearance at the St. Louis Cardinals' spring-training camp Monday and said he's still dealing with numbing and tingling sensations in his pitching hand, arm and shoulder.
"I'm not going to have surgery anymore," Carpenter said. "We'll see what happens. I don't see it. With the things that are going on in times of every day life, I just don't see it getting better to be honest with you."
Asked if he wanted to continue pitching, Carpenter said, "I do. I just don't think I can."
The 2005 NL Cy Young Award winner is 144-94 with a 3.76 ERA in 15 big league seasons.
He underwent neurogenic thoracic outlet surgery last July to eliminate a nerve issue that he's pitched with in his right shoulder since 2008. He returned to make three starts in September and three in the playoffs and planned on a healthful start to 2013.
But as Carpenter ramped up his bullpen sessions in St. Louis the week before spring training, the weakness and numbness that he had dealt with for years returned. He informed the Cardinals that he was unable to continue pitching.
"It's just weird," Carpenter said. "Some days all of a sudden I was driving in the car, and I don't know if I'm in a certain spot or things happen, but there's definitely weaknesses. Just walking on the beach in Puerto Rico, my shoulder would get tired and start aching and be sore and things that you don't normally deal with."
'I'll never officially retire. I'm going to continue to work hard and try to stay in shape and move on in the direction of what these doctors have to say to make sure nothing serious is going in there that will affect the rest of life.' — Injured Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter
Carpenter's contract calls for a $12.5 million salary this year, of which $2 million is deferred without interest and is to be paid in $200,000 installments each July 1 from 2017-26.
"I'll never officially retire," he said. "I'm going to continue to work hard and try to stay in shape and move on in the direction of what these doctors have to say to make sure nothing serious is going in there that will affect the rest of life. That's the thing that we're going to make sure is happening, and that is that my arm and my shoulder are going to be OK to do normal stuff throughout the rest of my life and not have any affects, five six ten years down the road."
Carpenter returned to camp at the urging of his wife and kids, who all just finished a week long spring break trip to Puerto Rico.
"I was in there working out and the game's on ESPN against the Yankees," Carpenter said. "I start thinking about wanting to try it and see what can happen, but I know the ultimate result won't be good."
Carpenter plans to stay for about a week and attend the Cardinals' home opener on April 8. He spoke with manager Mike Matheny and several teammates Monday as his kids joined a pickup baseball game outside.
"I love seeing him," Matheny said. "I've been pounding on him since we first heard the news to get down here and just enjoy it. I'd love to get him in uniform, but that's a push right now. But just seeing him down here and having him here is a good thing."
Carpenter plans to visit with team doctors in the next few weeks when he returns to St. Louis. But his focus remains on eliminating the pain from his everyday life. "I've been coming to spring training since I was 18 years old and this was the first year I wasn't able to play," Carpenter said. "It was definitely tough but it's good to see these guys."