ST. LOUIS -- St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter expects to begin a rehab program next week following surgery to relieve nerve compression that left his arm and much of the right side of his body numb.
The 37-year-old Carpenter gave no guarantee Tuesday that he'd be back next season. Carpenter didn't know when he'll be able to throw again, but said the surgeon, Dr. Greg Pearl of Dallas, told him there were no complications.
"There's always doubt with everything I've been through," Carpenter said. "But I know I'll do whatever it takes to get out there again."
Carpenter's top rib was removed along with two of the connecting muscles to free nerves, and scar tissue was removed. He was injured in spring training and last pitched as the Game 7 World Series winner last fall.
Carpenter said Pearl was "very positive about the outcome" and added, "I'm sure we'll know by the end of the season whether or not it worked."
Next year will be the final year of a two-year, $21 million contract for Carpenter, the staff ace when healthy but often injured. He won the 2005 NL Cy Young award but missed virtually all of the 2007 and 2008 seasons with an elbow injury and has dealt since 2008 with the nerve issue.
"This is about it. If it doesn't work, unfortunately I'm going to have to say good-bye," Carpenter said. "But I don't think I will. I think it's going to be fine, I'm excited about it."
Carpenter was 21-5 in 2005, led the National League with a 2.24 ERA in 2009 and is 95-42 since 2004, plus went 4-0 in the postseason last fall with a pair of victories over the Rangers.
Carpenter was in Dallas five days, staying an extra day after the operation Friday because there was more pain than he had anticipated, saying Pearl "painted the picture of it being pretty routine."
"I didn't want to get on a plane and fly home and not be around the people that did it," Carpenter said. "But it's getting better each day."
General manager John Mozeliak said last weekend that it would probably be a month or so before doctors could accurately assess the operation. Carpenter said there was no set protocol for how long it would take but said he worked out up to the surgery to perhaps give him the best chance of making a quick recovery.