KANSAS CITY — The St. Louis Cardinals are finally starting to get healthy.
Outfielder Jon Jay and first baseman Matt Carpenter were activated from the disabled list before Friday night's game at Kansas City, while right-hander Chris Carpenter threw to batters for the first time since March 18 because of a nerve condition in his shoulder.
Jay was starting in center field and batting second against the Royals, while Matt Carpenter was playing first base and batting seventh in the series opener.
"It's good to have both back," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "It's good to have everyone healthy, and it's good to have some guys back for morale."
Jay hurt his right shoulder when he crashed into the outfield wall at Busch Stadium on April 16, causing him to miss five games. He returned to the field but went on the disabled list May 16, putting a damper on what had been one of his best starts to a season.
He was hitting .343 with two homers and eight RBIs in 27 games.
"His body just started to heal. When the inflammation went down, he got better pretty quick," Matheny said. "There were a lot of things that he was doing for us early on."
Matt Carpenter only appeared in seven games last season, but he was hitting .288 with three homers and 20 RBIs this year, giving the Cardinals plenty of flexibility by being able to play both corner infield positions as well as the outfield.
He went on the disabled list May 23 with a strained right oblique.
"It was terrible," Carpenter said. "I've never in my life had to sit out, I think it was exactly one month today. You never want to be a spectator."
That's exactly what Chris Carpenter has been all season.
The three-time All-Star and former Cy Young winner has been out all season with what the team has called a nerve condition that resulted in weakness in his right shoulder. There was hope that he could return by June, but he didn't pick up a baseball until just recently.
Suddenly, there is some light at the end of the tunnel.
Nine days after finally throwing off the mound at Busch Stadium, Carpenter threw 34 pitches to seven hitters during batting practice before Friday night's game against the Royals.
"My shoulder is strong and healthy," he said. "You just have to go out there and see what happens, and hopefully it goes in the right direction."
Carpenter said it's been a relief to finally get on the mound.
"At some point, you start to run out of time," he said. "Unfortunately, you can't count on a person being back if you still don't know what's happening after the All-Star break. The next thing you know, it's September."
There is hope that Carpenter will be able to throw again Monday, and if all goes well, his next time on the mound could be in a rehab start — though he was quick to hedge those bets.
"That's (up to) them," he said, nodding toward trainer's room. "Not me."
To make room for Jay and Matt Carpenter, St. Louis optioned first baseman Matt Adams and outfielder Adron Chambers to Triple-A Memphis. Adams was hitting .244 with two homers and 13 RBIs in 27 games with St. Louis. Chambers hit .250 with three RBIs in 23 games.