The last time Chris Carpenter took the mound for the Cardinals in a game, of any kind, was Oct. 27, or, more simply, Game 7 of the 2011 World Series.

Carpenter won that game, closing out an unbeaten postseason for him and giving the Cardinals their 11th championship in a stunning, come-from-behind fashion.

His 2012 season, however, stopped before it started. Projected to be the team's Opening Day pitcher, he felt tightness in his neck in spring training, and his appearances kept being delayed and doctors kept being visited until July, when it was determined he would need surgery, including the removal of part of a rib, to relieve pressure on nerves that was causing the discomfort. Everyone figured his season was over.