As the St. Louis Cardinals and New York Mets try again to play baseball on Tuesday, July 26th, it appears the hot and steamy weather will cooperate this time – after Monday’s rainout.
Day of rest
After the Cardinals had a very disruptive Sunday night with travel difficulties getting out of St. Louis and into New York, the relatively quick decision to call Monday’s game due to rain was appreciated by the Cardinals.
“I imagine the guys needed it badly,” said manager Mike Matheny. Speaking for himself, he said, “It was nice to catch up on sleep.” The rainout “was pretty well-timed,” concluded the skipper.
One Cardinals starter begged to differ, expressing a preference to have played on Monday. “18 innings of baseball is no joke,” he said, referring to Tuesday’s twin bill.
For a normal 7 p.m. game, buses usually leave the hotel at about 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. For Tuesday’s 4 p.m. start, the buses were at noon and 2 p.m. It appeared to me that most of the club took the later bus. Neither team took batting practice on the field, with the Cardinals getting their work done in the cages inside.
Matt Holliday, struck on the nose with a pitch last weekend, has no visible bruising or swelling. “My nose is a little sore, but otherwise, everything is fine,” the outfielder said on Tuesday. Holliday looked normal in the clubhouse before the game.
Though Holliday was on the originally-released lineup card for Game 1, Jeremy Hazelbaker was penciled into left field in the final version. A team representative said the change was just based on an early lineup card being released prematurely and a change made afterward, implying it was not injury-driven.
Newly-promoted outfielder Dean Kiekhefer was one of the first players in the clubhouse on Tuesday, having taken a 6:30 a.m. flight out of Memphis. At that point, the club had not announced its transactions for the day, so we media members assumed Kiekhefer was again the 26th player allowed for the double header.
Though Kiekhefer had traveled to New York with the real 26th man, Sam Tuivailala, he had to be coy – until the real news broke – that he is instead replacing Trevor Rosenthal on the active roster.
Kiekhefer was especially pleased to have learned the news of his promotion from Cardinals farm director Gary LaRocque, who was with the Memphis club Monday. In fact, Kiekhefer had initially thought he was going to be the 26th man again, until LaRocque gave him the good news that he is staying with the big club – at least for a while.
“I understand my stuff can play up here,” the left-hander said. Noting he previously had several outings that were not as good as he would have liked, he said, “I have to make every pitch and be locked in.”
Kiekhefer should be well-rested, having thrown just once since July 18, a 1 1/3 inning outing on Saturday.
(Look for my interview with Kiekhefer in the upcoming days as the left-hander discusses the 2016 Memphis Redbirds.)
Rosenthal’s rocky road
Matheny told us that Rosenthal came forward after his last appearance on Sunday and “asked if he could have something looked at,” oddly avoiding identifying the shoulder specifically. The reliever was apparently examined on Monday, but the manager said he was unaware of the results.
The club did not have prior knowledge of physical problems. Matheny noted Rosenthal’s velocity had been good and the club “followed his lead to pitch as much as he wants.” When questioned further about any ongoing injury, Matheny responded with, “I can’t jump in his body and tell how he feels.” The manager likened it to Seth Maness’ situation in May and June in that there is apparently not a major injury, but “something is not lining up.”
When asked if the DL stint could be used to begin to stretch Rosenthal out as a starter, Matheny acknowledged they had “talked about it,” without clarifying who had participated in the discussion or committing to anything. Having Rosenthal throw “multiple innings, multiple pitches” has appeal if it can help him “get more consistent,” said the manager.
The bullpen overall
When pressed on whether the bullpen is in transition, Matheny said, “This is not a radical change,” noting they had already shuffled the ninth inning role.
The manager wants “guys in roles to eat innings.” He said Jerome Williams, promoted on Monday, is “ready to throw 100 pitches” and Kiekhefer is durable enough to either provide multiple innings or pitch on back-to-back days.
Of course, bullpen usage leads into the question of who will start for St. Louis this coming Saturday in Miami. Matheny noted, “last time, it didn’t work,” in reference to call-up Mike Mayers’ shelling in his Sunday night MLB debut against the Dodgers.
Carlos Martinez lost a day in each of the last two rotation turns due to rainouts. Not yet knowing how the next few days would play out with his pitching, Matheny would not commit to a starter for Saturday yet, but did acknowledge that “it would be best to get Tyler (Lyons) there.”
Link to Monday’s New York Minutes.
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