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Cards hand ball to Carp for ceremonial pitch

Sidelined ace handles pregame honors for Game 2 of NLDS at Busch Stadium

ST. LOUIS -- Chris Carpenter threw the first pitch at Busch Stadium on Friday, which would have been perfectly ordinary had it not been a ceremonial one.

The longtime Cardinals ace, whose 10 career postseason wins and 18 starts top St. Louis' all-time list, was on hand and in uniform for Game 2 of the National League Division Series to do the honors, lobbing the pitch to his son, Sam, behind the plate. His daughter, Ava, joined him on the mound.

"It's going to be exciting, obviously," Carpenter said before the game. "When they came to me with the idea, I was up for it and I'm looking forward to it. I think it's going to be a fun day."

The 38-year-old right-hander has not pitched this season after being shut down with a right shoulder injury. He announced prior to Spring Training that he would not pitch this year, but attempted a comeback this summer. The injury persisted, but Carpenter has not ruled out a 2014 return.

Carpenter had been traveling with the team on the last few road trips of the regular season, and continued to serve as a mentor to the team's pitching staff despite his absence from the rotation.

"It's a weird phenomenon being on the disabled list. A lot of times guys go through the mental adjustment of just feeling like they can't contribute, because they're not doing what they normally do," manager Mike Matheny said. "There are a lot of even veterans that make the mistake of thinking that they don't have a voice and that they're not going to have the impact, because they're not out there doing it, and they miss an opportunity. But Carp is above and beyond that.

"This guy has been not just a voice to our pitching staff, he's a guy that gets everything going on the bench. He's a catalyst. He's in there yelling and screaming and firing people up, and reminding them of different things and challenging them and calling them out. This guy's career speaks for itself, what he's been able to do on the field."

The national anthem on Friday was performed by retired Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Generald Wilson, with the 206th Regional Support Group Army Reserves -- based in Springfield, Ill. -- holding a large flag. The colors were presented by the Joint Service Color Guard from U.S. Transportation Command at Scott Air Force Base.

Joey Nowak is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @joeynowak.
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