After not pitching in the majors at all in 2013, Chris Carpenter retired on Wednesday. The Cardinals announced Carpenter's decision at a press conference where they also announced that manager Mike Matheny had been signed to a three-year contract extension through 2017.
Retirement actually appeared to be in the cards (no pun intended) for Carpenter heading into the 2012 season. Last spring, the 2005 Cy Young winner had surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome, knocking him out of action for all but three starts at the end of the year. Carpenter also made three starts during the 2012 Postseason, allowing four earned runs on 19 hits in 13 2/3 innings. Despite the comeback, Carpenter's velocity was a tick below where it sat during his prime.
This spring, Carpenter was indefinitely shut down after feeling pain in his shoulder. He struggled in two July rehab starts, and didn't pitch again. 2013 was the final year of a two-year, $21 million contract that Carpenter signed with the Cardinals in September of 2011 to rework a club option for 2012 from his previous contract.
Carpenter's career ends as one that alternated brilliance with injury. He didn't pitch at all in 2003 thanks to surgery to repair a torn labrum. Carpenter was then released by the Blue Jays and caught on with the Cardinals, where he rebounded to make 28 starts in 2004. He won the NL Cy Young award in 2005, capturing 19 first place votes to edge Dontrelle Willis of the Marlins, pitching to a 2.83 ERA in 241 2/3 innings. Carpenter finished third in the NL Cy Young voting in 2006 to Brandon Webb and Trevor Hoffman,
He made just four starts between 2007 and 2008 after a pair of elbow surgeries and more problems with his right shoulder. He'd once again rebound in 2009, leading the NL with a 2.24 ERA in 192 2/3 innings and finishing as a close runner-up to Tim Lincecum in the NL Cy Young voting. Carpenter threw 472 1/3 innings between 2010 and 2011 before his latest batch of injuries surfaced, and there would be no third rebound.
For his career, Carpenter was a three-time NL All-Star, the 2009 NL Comeback Player of the Year, and was a member of the Cardinals' 2006 and 2011 World Championship teams, pitching the clinching Game 7 against the Rangers in 2011. In the second half of his career, Carpenter was one of the most dominant pitchers in the National League. But he's not a young man anymore, and he probably wouldn't have been able to perform at that high level anymore if he returned to the mound for the Cardinals.