Carpenter plays catch, says he feels stronger

TIM REYNOLDS AP Sports Writer Published:

JUPITER, Fla. (AP) -- St. Louis pitcher Chris Carpenter played catch with teammate Jake Westbrook on Wednesday morning, a step the Cardinals' ace hopes gets him closer to prepared for the season.

Carpenter has been dealing with a bulging neck disc and has yet to appear in a game this spring for the World Series champions.

Carpenter says he does not know what the next step in his recovery will be. He says he's aiming to "continue to go in the right direction" and that he's been able to stay in shape through running and weightlifting. His workouts have been tempered because of the neck issue, but his full range of motion has returned in recent days.

Carpenter went 4-0 in last year's playoffs, winning Game 7 of the World Series against Texas.