Chris Carpenter threw Friday afternoon to hitters for the first time since mid-March and left open the possibility of embarking on a rehab assignment soon.

Carpenter, who threw 34 pitches to seven hitters at Kauffman Stadium, will repeat the process Monday in Miami. Reluctant to offer a precise timetable for a return, Carpenter allowed that he and the club "will see where we're at" before evaluating the next step.

"I was excited about being out there," said Carpenter, who faced teammates Shane Robinson, Tyler Greene, Tony Cruz and Matt Carpenter and third base coach Jose Oquendo. "I was probably overthrowing a little bit at times. My command wasn't exactly what I wished for. But then again, it is my first throw to hitters since spring training. I was excited that everything felt good and I'm looking forward to doing it again on Monday."

The club would probably have Carpenter make three rehab starts before activating him. Such a timetable would put him in play well before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, possibly soon after the All-Star break.

Rather than throw five pitches to each hitter, Carpenter insisted upon working it like an actual at-bat. He threw exclusively from the wind-up. Robinson produced the hardest-hit ball — a fly ball to the left-center field warning track. All parties came away pleased with his velocity and arm action.

Carpenter cited his pitch count as more than 60 because he included his warm-up.

General manager John Mozeliak recently voiced a need to know the direction of Carpenter's recovery from nerve-related shoulder weakness by July 1. Carpenter noted Friday, "We're running out of time."