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Carpenter Halts His Rehab

St. Louis — Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter’s rehab has been put on hold after the New Hampshire native injured his lower back in a bullpen session.

General manager John Mozeliak said yesterday that any contribution this season from Carpenter, sidelined since February with nerve issues on the right side of his body, would be a bonus.

Mozeliak anticipated the team would have a better handle on the situation after other doctors in St. Louis weighed in on the back issue.

We don’t think it’s as serious as we first thought,” Mozeliak said. “It’s slowing things down. Hopefully we can continue to work at it. As you can tell, we’ve got to be patient here.”

Before spring training, the 38-year-old Carpenter and the team believed the injury might be career-ending. The 2005 NL Cy Young winner had been steadily progressing before the back tightened after he finished throwing Sunday.

Mozeliak anticipated the team would have a better handle on the situation after other doctors in St. Louis weighed in on the back issue. He said it was too soon to label starting pitching as a target at the trade deadline, and wasn’t ready to dangle top prospects as bait.

The Cardinals had the best record in the majors despite numerous pitching injuries. Jaime Garcia and closer Jason Motte are out for the year and Jake Westbrook missed a month with a shoulder injury, but St. Louis has gotten big contributions from several rookie fill-ins.

“I don’t know what our needs will be on July 31st,” Mozelilak said. “The good news is, we’re playing pretty good baseball and we have six weeks to sort through it.”

Carpenter was 21-5 with a 2.83 ERA in his ’05 Cy Young season and was second after going 17-4 with a 2.24 ERA in 2009. Before this season, he had missed most or all of five seasons due to shoulder, elbow and nerve injuries.

Last season, he returned from radical surgery to relieve nerve compression in time to help the Cardinals earn the final NL wild card spot. The right-hander is in the final year of a two-year contract.

Phils Won’t Deal Papelbon

Philadelphia — While the Philadelphia Phillies struggle to achieve even a winning record, speculation persists that Cliff Lee and Jonathan Papelbon will be available before next month’s non-waiver trade deadline.

That’s not necessarily the case.

Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. told The Associated Press says Lee and Papelbon are “championship-caliber players.

“If we think about moving these guys, then I better be getting someone of better or equal value and I just don’t see that happening,” Amaro said.

The Phillies are 35-38 and went into yesterday eight games behind first-place Atlanta in the NL East and 7½ out of a wild-card berth.

Rangers Recall Prospect

Arlington, Texas — The Texas Rangers are planning to bring top pitching prospect Martin Perez back to the majors and give ace Yu Darvish an extra day of rest.

After Thursday’s series-clinching 4-3 victory over Oakland, the Rangers said they would recall left-hander Perez from Triple-A Round Rock tomorrow to start that night against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Rookie right-hander Nick Tepesch (3-6), who had been listed as tomorrow’s starter, is being pushed back to series finale Sunday of the team’s first trip to St. Louis since the 2011 World Series.

Darvish (7-3), the major league strikeout leader, had been scheduled to start Sunday night against Adam Wainwright (10-4). Darvish will instead pitch the series opener Tuesday at the New York Yankees.