Cardinals veteran ace Chris Carpenter halted his rehab because of a creeping numbness in his pitching hand that has stirred concerns it will lead to the condition that has forced him from the mound several times before.
Carpenter met with manager Mike Matheny and general manager John Mozeliak on Tuesday and decided to “take a step back” in his attempt to return to the team. He felt the familiar tingling in his hand during a rehab start Saturday with Class AAA Memphis, and officials believe pitching through the symptom would trigger the nerve troubles that had Carpenter close to retirement back in February.

An official said Carpenter is not expected to pitch “in the near future.”

“If I continue to keep throwing at the intensity of rehabbing and 100 pitches that is going to lead down the same path it has when it goes numb,” Carpenter said Tuesday. “We’re going to back off and try to figure out what’s going, where and why.”

Mozeliak said Carpenter could be “back to square one.”

Carpenter, 38, made two rehab starts with a Cardinals affiliate, throwing 22/3 innings for Class AA Springfield on July 15 and 31/3 innings this past Saturday at Memphis. While he had reassuring velocity in both starts – his fastball hummed at 93 mph, consistently – his command was flighty, and his feel for pitches escaped him completely in the later innings at Memphis. He threw 74 pitches and allowed four runs on nine hits and two walks. Manager Mike Matheny said that the two starts “have not gone how he wanted or we wanted.”

The veteran righty said during both rehab starts he felt the numbness in his right hand, and that in the past that’s been a precursor to it climbing steadily up his right arm and into his shoulder. He missed most of last season with the related nerve condition, and that was the second time in five seasons his shoulder had nerve issues.

“There have been times during games when I feel it,” Carpenter said. “I’m not going to push it past to where everything shuts down like it did (before) spring. I still have strength. I’m still strong. My arm strength is still there. But we have to figure out what’s causing the stuff in my hand before we push it.”