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Chris Carpenter facing potential career ending surgery


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Two versions of the same story, with different spins on the outcome.

Specialist recommends Carpenter have surgery for compressed nerve

St. Louis general manager John Mozeliak on Tuesday described a "simple surgery" that could return the right-hander to activities in six weeks with an overall recovery time of about three months. Mozeliak said the injury is related to nerve damage that knocked Carpenter out for the 2004 postseason.

Carpenter's career in doubt?

Disabled Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter is suffering from career-threatening compression and scarring of a series of nerves feeding his right shoulder, according to sources familiar with his situation.

.... "This is a big deal," according to source close to Carpenter. "If the nerve doesn’t recover, it’s a serious problem. It could prevent him from pitching."

Carpenter’s condition is believed unique among active major-league players.

.... A magnetic resonance imaging performed after Carpenter’s abortive August start found no structural damage in either Carpenter’s surgically repaired shoulder or elbow. Persistent weakness led team medical supervisor Dr. George Paletta last week to order an additional MRI of Carpenter’ neck. The imaging found damage to at least five nerves, according to a source familiar with the findings.

.... Neurologists have concentrated their focus on the brachial plexus, a bundle or "superhighway" of nerves running from the spine to the neck and beneath the collarbone. The brachial plexus is responsible for firing most of the muscles in the upper arm.

A nerve conduction study performed last week found that Carpenter’s condition has existed for years rather than weeks or months, according to the source.

Surgery is not described as radical but would be performed only if neurosurgeons are convinced a significant chance exists for improvement.

.... The club theorizes that Carpenter’s ongoing condition may represent a complication from 2003 surgery to repair his right rotator cuff and labrum while he still played for the Toronto Blue Jays.

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