PAWTUCKET, R.I. — He still gets mistaken for the St. Louis Cardinals player.
Fans still ask him to autograph the other Chris Carpenter’s trading card, even though they could just compare the picture with the righthander staring back at them.
But even more often these days, the Triple A Pawtucket pitcher gets asked about being the compensation after Theo Epstein left the Red Sox to become president of the Cubs. Still, Carpenter is carving out his own path, one that finally got off the ground this week after a long road back from surgery in March that removed a bone spur in his pitching elbow.
“At the beginning, trying to get the range of motion back, that’s always the slow part. Once you start throwing, get back into the program, that’s when things start to pick up and you start to feel you’re getting closer to that end goal,” Carpenter said. “The last four weeks for me flew by, just throwing every day, getting back on the mound, making that rehab progression up through the system. That’s what the ultimate goal was, and it went really fast.”
He’s had elbow surgery, so he knew the timetable. But that didn’t make the recovery any less frustrating. To pass the time after his daily morning rehab sessions, Carpenter took up ocean fishing. He caught a bull shark and a lemon shark. He threw them back, figuring the Sox wouldn’t like him getting too close to them.
“It’s just something you have to deal with, take in stride, and work hard to get where you want to be,” Carpenter said. “Something I did, took pride in rehabbing myself and getting back to the strength I had before the surgery.
“There’s only one way to deal with it, and it’s to try to get yourself better.”
Since arriving in Pawtucket this week, Carpenter has thrown three scoreless innings in three appearances. He earned his first save Thursday.
Not overthinking it
Like most of the Red Sox outfielders this season, Scott Podsednik found himself battling an injury. But when he got healthy, there was no room for him on the roster.
“I don’t feel like I need to prove anything to anybody,” Podsednik said. “I think these guys and the rest of the baseball world know what I bring to the table. My focus here is to stay sharp, stay ready, and hopefully get another opportunity in the big leagues somewhere.”
That Podsednik remains with Pawtucket is not for a lack of production. He was a spark plug for the Sox after being promoted May 22, batting .387 with an .893 OPS and six stolen bases in 19 games.
But after coming off the 15-day disabled list from a groin injury before the All-Star break, Podsednik was optioned to Triple A, where he has been ever since.
He said he has not paid attention to Boston’s outfield situation. With Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury back from injuries, Podsednik’s shot at returning to the majors with the Sox might be thinning.
“The only thing I can control is between the lines and just managing myself,” he said “That’s the focus. Earlier in my career, I would have paid more attention to it and try to read between the lines and see what’s going to happen here or there, but I think a player can waste a lot of time and energy paying attention to that. I try to focus all my attention on managing myself and managing my game and keeping myself ready to go.
“I know I can still help clubs, I know I still have the competitive fire burning inside to compete at the big league level. Until either that fire burns out or the body just can’t go out there and play at those speeds anymore, I’m going to be ready to go.”
Ryan Kalish played catch in the outfield Tuesday night, and appears on his way to returning from an injured knee after he crashed into a wall after being optioned to Pawtucket. If he continues progressing at this rate, he will avoid the disabled list . . . Once stuck in an 0-for-17 slide that spanned the All-Star break, Jackie Bradley has since caught fire again for Double A Portland. In his last six games, Bradley is 6 for 17, including 2 for 3 with a double and a triple Monday against Reading. Since his promotion, Bradley is hitting .318 with an .872 OPS . . . Salem pitcher Brandon Workman continues to mow down batters in Single A. He is averaging a little less than a strikeout per inning, and fanned a career-high 10 in six innings in his latest outing, a 7-6 loss at Frederick Monday . . . Portland pitcher Mike MacDonald gave up five hits in seven scoreless innings on Tuesday in his first full outing of the season. After being signed out of the independent Atlantic League, the 30-year-old made his debut July 8, but left after two-thirds of an inning because of an injury.