Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Cards Have Pitching Depth to Deal with Injuries

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Cards Have Pitching Depth to Deal with Injuries

Article excerpt

Carlos Martinez was certain that he could have pitched through the pain near his shoulder in part because he quietly pitched through similar discomfort in spring training. The irritation was noticeably worse after his last start, though, and he was mature and smart enough to inform the training staff in time to go on the disabled list before making matters worse.

The Cardinals don't need any heroes at this time of year, which is why it has been so important for Martinez to be honest about the right lat strain that landed him on the 10-day disabled list. It's better for the ace righthander to miss a pair of starts now instead of risking further damage that could keep him out for a month or two later.

"In spring training I felt mild discomfort, but it was nothing serious," Martinez said. "I simply kept pitching, but this time I felt it a bit more. I could have kept pitching, but I asked them for a few days of rest."

Unlike last year, the Cardinals are better positioned to deal with having two-fifths of the expected starting rotation on the disabled list. On the same day that veteran righthander Adam Wainwright was placed on the 60-day DL, Martinez was optimistic after undergoing his second MRI since landing on the DL. Equally important for the Cardinals, phenom Alex Reyes was full of optimism in the clubhouse Thursday after two impressive rehab starts in his return from the right elbow ligament replacement surgery that robbed him of last season.

With Reyes on the way, fellow righthander Jack Flaherty already up to take Wainwright's spot in the rotation and John Gant temporarily taking Martinez's spot, the Cardinals are showcasing the starting pitching depth that should serve them well this season.

Class AAA Memphis lefthander Austin Gomber is also making a case for an opportunity if another starter is hurt or if one of the youngsters falters. The next two weeks should give Flaherty, who will face the Phillies on Sunday, a chance to prove that he's too valuable to return to Memphis.

Internal competition is good, and that's exactly what the Cardinals' starting rotation will have as righthander Luke Weaver and Flaherty attempt to secure their spots before Reyes is ready to join the rotation when he's eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list May 28.

Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak readily concedes that he wouldn't have felt as good about the team's ability to overcome injuries to two starting pitchers at this time last season.

"I think given where we are with what you're seeing out of Flaherty and Gant, Weaver last year would have been a younger pitcher with question marks," Mozeliak said. "And then knowing you're getting somebody like Alex Reyes back into the mix within the next couple of weeks, there's a different level of confidence that we have today than we would have a year ago. …

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