Feb. 13: Q of the Day

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Why isn’t Chris Carpenter obligated to be around the team this Spring Training/year? I love Carp. I have all the respect for in the world for him, and I am grateful for the time he was on the mound the last nine seasons. But as long as he’s making $12.5 million this year, why does he not have to be around the team helping the younger guys? He would be such a help to our plethora of young pitchers. I don’t understand why he isn’t around the team.

– Chad G., St. Louis

Let me start my answer to this question by saying that it’s hardly abnormal for an injured player to be away from a team, particularly when you’re talking about a significant injury issue. In some cases, players will return to their permanent homes to do their rehab there, even in the case of an in-season setback. One of the benefits of this is that it allows the club’s trainers to focus their attention on the active players or those much closer to a return from injury.

There’s no question that the Cardinals’ pitching staff would benefit from Carpenter’s appearance. His presence alone commands attention, and he has shown a sincere willingness to invest in those who want to work alongside him. That said, being here in Florida likely wouldn’t be all that beneficial to him.

Carpenter talked on Monday about how mentally challenging it is to be around teammates when you know you’re unable to contribute on the field. Even returning supportive texts and phone calls from concerned teammates has been difficult for Carpenter to do so far. He put it off all last week. As a result Carpenter said that he believes the best place for him to focus on his future and his current arm problem is in St. Louis, where there are no distractions.

Since Carpenter makes his home in St. Louis, I do expect that he’ll be around during the year. He has not stated any intention to stay away for the regular season, and I think the convenience of being close will draw him to the ballpark. By then, too, the sting of this setback will have somewhat subsided.

Some have lamented the fact that Carpenter will make $12.5 million this year for doing nothing. I get it. Outside the sports world, it would be absurd for an employee to earn that much when he or she couldn’t perform. In baseball, though, contracts are guaranteed, and that’s why teams are always weighing risk vs. reward when signing players to deals.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

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