On the first official day of workouts for pitchers and catchers, the St. Louis Cardinals received bad news on Tuesday. Alex Reyes, one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball and a serious contender for the fifth spot in the Cardinals’ rotation, has experienced elbow discomfort and has been sent out for an MRI.
An official ruling is expected from the club on Wednesday morning, but there are fears that Reyes’ ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow is torn. Season-ending Tommy John surgery could be the outcome, but this is unconfirmed.
Reyes, 22, first experienced soreness last Friday, and informed club officials on Tuesday morning, according to Post-Dispatch reporter Derrick Goold.
Reyes also missed his chance at participating in major league camp last spring due to a drug suspension, but was able to make his minor league debut in late May and reached St. Louis for the first time in early August. This year’s setback could be far worse.
Pitcher Michael Wacha, whose Monday arbitration hearing resulted in a Cardinals win, is the leader for the final open spot in the rotation heading into spring camp. He could be challenged by Luke Weaver, who made seven starts for St. Louis in 2016. The ruling means Wacha will make $2.775 million this season instead of the $3.2 million he requested.
Tuesday was definitely a bad day for the club, as minor league pitcher and non-roster invitee Kendry Flores was sent out for an MRI of his shoulder as well, reports Goold. Flores, The Cardinal Nation’s 42nd-ranked prospect, was signed as a free agent from the Miami Marlins in November.
Update: Wednesday morning, February 15: Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak confirmed via a press conference from Jupiter, Florida that Reyes needs season-ending Tommy John surgery. Team physician Dr. George Paletta will conduct the elbow ligament replacement surgery in Florida, likely on Thursday. The team sent results to Dr. James Andrews for an outside opinion, but expect confirmation. The lesser ligament repair surgery is not an option given the severity of the tear, the GM said.
Rotation contenders for the final spot include Wacha, Luke Weaver, Trevor Rosenthal and Tyler Lyons, per Mozeliak.
Update: Thursday, February 16: Reyes had Tommy John surgery in Jupiter and is expected to begin his rehab in St. Louis by April.
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