PITTSBURGH -- With manager Mike Matheny among those watching, right-hander Chris Carpenter threw 40 pitches in the PNC Park bullpen on Tuesday, marking the first time Carpenter has thrown off a mound since his July 19 surgery.
At the time of the thoracic outlet surgery, the Cardinals characterized the procedure as season-ending. An interesting thing happened on Tuesday, though. Both Carpenter and Matheny took a step back, refusing to completely rule out the possibility of a late-season return by the 37-year-old right-hander.
"He's different than others," Matheny said. "He is."
Getting any on-field contributions from Carpenter in 2012 is still a significant question mark. But before Tuesday, such a proposition wasn't even deemed a possibility.
"I worked my butt off leading up to the surgery so that when I had a surgery, I would lose the least amount of strength that I could," said Carpenter, who hasn't pitched this season. "That way I could be ahead of the curve and get back faster. It didn't take me long to get strong. It didn't take me long to get my arm strength back. And I feel good."
The Cardinals initially provided a 3-4 month recovery window for Carpenter, who began throwing on flat ground about two weeks ago. Those long-toss sessions have led to bullpen sessions, which Carpenter will continue to throw as long as his arm continues to respond well.
Assuming he has no trouble bouncing back from Tuesday's session, Carpenter is set to throw off the mound again on Friday.
The most immediate priority for Carpenter isn't whether he'll pitch in 2012, but whether the surgery was successful enough for him to undertake a normal offseason program that will allow him to prepare properly for 2013.
"We're just trying to get me to the point where we know whether or not I can be counted on for the spring and next season, or not," Carpenter said. "I think that's fair to me. It's fair to the organization. It's fair to this team to know what direction they can move in the offseason. If they can count on me, they get a starting pitcher. If they can't, then obviously they'll have to figure out what to do to fill my spot.
"We're going to move in that direction and see where it takes us."
But could a process intended to provide the organization with clarity also push Carpenter to a place on the Cardinals' postseason roster?
Well, with the playoffs still a little more than five weeks away, Carpenter has sufficient time to build up his arm. He wouldn't be in position to start for the Cardinals in October, but he could be a candidate for a bullpen spot.
When presented with a projection of how his bullpen could look if Carpenter were inserted, Matheny grinned.
"Looking over the whole course of this deal -- how many times we've had him excited, we've had us excited -- I think we're all just taking a slower approach," Matheny said. "Let's just take it a day at a time."
Cardinals call up Anderson, Rosenthal
ST. LOUIS -- As expected, the Cardinals recalled catcher Bryan Anderson and pitcher Trevor Rosenthal from Triple-A Memphis before Wednesday's series finale in Pittsburgh. Infielder Ryan Jackson and reliever Brandon Dickson were optioned to Triple-A in order to create the necessary space on the 25-man roster.
Anderson was pulled from Memphis' game in the third inning on Tuesday, shortly after Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina exited following a collision at the plate in St. Louis' 9-0 loss to the Pirates. Though Molina -- who was diagnosed with a left shoulder, back and neck strain -- is not immediately headed to the disabled list, the Cardinals wanted to have another catcher available to back up Tony Cruz for however long Molina may be sidelined.
Anderson was up with the big league club for three days last month, though he never appeared in a game. In 99 Triple-A games this year, Anderson is hitting .223.
The swap of Dickson for Rosenthal, ranked by MLB.com as the Cardinals' No. 6 prospect, comes after the Cardinals needed Dickson to cover three innings (38 pitches) in relief of starter Jake Westbrook on Tuesday. That workload would have left him unavailable out of the bullpen on Wednesday.
Also working in the Cardinals' favor is the timing. Players optioned to the Minors must remain there for at least 10 days unless they are needed to take the spot of someone on the disabled list. Rosenthal was sent down on Aug. 18, meaning he has met that requirement.
Dickson made two appearances during this short stint with the Cardinals. Rosenthal's only appearance for Memphis since his last demotion came on Aug. 22. He threw five shutout innings in the start.
Slew of Cards prospects earn Minor League awards
PITTSBURGH -- Several Minor League players in the Cardinals' system were presented with league season and postseason honors on Tuesday. Here is a rundown:
Outfielder Oscar Taveras was named the Texas League Player of the Year, making this the second straight season a member of the Double-A Springfield club earned that honor. Matt Adams won the award in 2011. Taveras, who leads the league in batting average (.322), hits (146) and extra-base hits (64), was one of five Springfield players named to the Texas League postseason All-Star team.
Joining Taveras on the team are second baseman Kolten Wong, as well as pitchers Keith Butler, Seth Maness and Trevor Rosenthal.
Outfielder Mike O'Neill and second baseman Starlin Rodriguez were named to the Florida State League postseason All-Star team. Through 107 games, Rodriguez has a .300 average, seven homers, 46 RBIs and 16 stolen bases for Class A Advanced Palm Beach.
O'Neill, who was recently promoted to Double-A, hit .342 with 35 RBIs in 108 games with Palm Beach. He finished 10 hits shy of breaking Palm Beach's all-time hit record of 141, which was established by Juan Lucena in 2006.
Palm Beach catcher Cody Stanley has earned Player of the Week honors in the Florida State League for his production from Aug. 20-26. Stanley went 5-for-12 with two doubles, two homers and 11 RBIs in four games.
First baseman Lance Berkman (right knee soreness) went 0-for-4 on Monday in what was his third Minor League rehab appearance with Triple-A Memphis. Matheny received the following report from Memphis after the game: "No results, but he had a couple of good at-bats."
Third baseman David Freese returned to the Cardinals' lineup on Tuesday after missing time while dealing with a sore left wrist. Freese was slotted in the seventh spot in the lineup.
Because of Jake Westbrook's high ground-ball rate, Matheny has more often than not gone with above-average defender Daniel Descalso at second base when Westbrook is on the mound. On Tuesday, however, Matheny plugged in Skip Schumaker, who has played sound-enough defense and was 8-for-15 on this road trip.
"I just wanted to keep a good thing going," Matheny said. "Danny is really fighting a little bit right now offensively. Skip has been putting together some nice at-bats, so we'll try not to mess with it too much, even though we're messing with it a little bit by putting him in the second spot. We're just trying to find a place to get some guys on base for the big guys."
On Tuesday, pitching prospect Tyrell Jenkins, ranked by MLB.com as the Cards' No. 5 prospect, was sent to seek a second opinion on an injury the Cardinals believed to be a strained right lat muscle. Jenkins and the organization received good news after that visit. Though the strain is worse than it was initially thought to be, Jenkins will not need any surgery. He is projected to begin a throwing program in three weeks.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.