Cardinals Major League Notebook: 05/25/10

The Cardinals head into San Diego tied for first place but filled with question marks, including the health of their rotation.



Right-hander Brad Penny already was out of the rotation with a strained muscle in his back, and it appears that Kyle Lohse, another veteran right-hander, is about to join him in dry dock.


Lohse on Monday underwent a battery of tests conducted by Dr. George Paletta, the Cardinals' medical supervisor. And while no structural damage was found in his right forearm, Lohse still was instructed to see a specialist in Los Angeles concerning the inflammation that has caused him discomfort, similar to what he endured last season.


"They saw something in there, and now we need to talk with a specialist to determine exactly what I'm dealing with here," Lohse told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "They don't want me to throw during this time and do something that would make it worse for whatever is going on. Odds are I'm probably going to get some time off, missing at least one start and not throwing at all until we figure out what's going on."


Lohse had an MRI taken of his forearm, and then he went through a series of workouts so that several MRIs could be taken of the forearm after exercise. During those workouts, Lohse experienced the same fatigue and cramping that had happened when he pitched, including on Saturday when he had to come out of a game in the fourth inning.


Last year, Lohse twice was on the disabled list with a strained forearm flexor. He had been hit by a pitch on the forearm in the eighth inning of a shutout he was pitching against Kansas City on May 23, 2009. He left the game, and his season was all downhill after that. Lohse re-injured his arm when he made a throw from the ground after he had dived to field a bunt on June 3.


Lohse's next start is slated for Saturday in Chicago, although it appears unlikely he'll pitch then. The Cardinals are expected to bring up either right-hander Adam Ottavino or left-hander Evan MacLane from Class AAA Memphis. Ottavino was scheduled to start Monday night, which would put him on his proper day to start Saturday.


Penny's first missed start, which will be Thursday in San Diego, probably will be taken by right-handed rookie P.J. Walters, who worked four innings in relief of Penny on Friday night.




With RHPs Brad Penny and Kyle Lohse sidelined by injuries, the Cardinals are likely to have three rookies in their rotation for a while, joining veteran RHPs Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright.


"If it turns out there's three rookies in the rotation, that's just the way it is," manager Tony La Russa said. "The rookie that's in there now (LHP Jaime Garcia) is one of our best pitchers."


The Cardinals will play nine days in a row, beginning Tuesday night in San Diego, and La Russa said he was pondering adding an eighth reliever. But RHP Blake Hawksworth, who missed the weekend series with the Angels because of a sore groin, should be ready to pitch on Tuesday.


With the Cardinals rotation performing so well until the last 10 days or so, the bullpen hasn't pitched as much as it might have expected. But with injuries to RHPs Brad Penny and Kyle Lohse in the same three-game series, the relievers worked 15 2/3 innings and the starters only 12 1/3, six of those by RHP Chris Carpenter on Sunday.


"I think it's good for us to go out there and pitch multiple innings and be out there a little while," said closer Ryan Franklin, who got his third win with two scoreless innings of relief Sunday. "We were getting spoiled there for the first month and a half."


1B Albert Pujols has gone nine games without a RBI since he had two in Cincinnati on May 14, when he hit a two-run homer. Seven of his eight homers have come away from Busch Stadium.


RF Ryan Ludwick, often a streak hitter, is streaking the other way now. Ludwick fanned four times in five hitless at-bats Sunday, and he is in an 0-for-9 skid with six strikeouts.


By The Numbers:


1,045-Number of consecutive starts, since May, 2003, in which 1B Albert Pujols had hit third before manager Tony La Russa moved him to fourth at the start of a home stand on May 17. Pujols returned to the No. 3 spot on May 22 after the Cardinals went 4-1.

Quote To Note:


"It's over. We said what we said. It's over."


-1B Albert Pujols, after a testy exchange with manager Tony La Russa when Pujols showed displeasure with a runner being thrown out trying to steal while he was at-bat.




Medical Watch:


RHP Kyle Lohse (right forearm inflammation) left his May 22 start. An MRI on May 24 found no structural damage. He almost certainly will miss his May 29 start, but his long-term status was in doubt pending further evaluation.


RHP Blake Hawksworth (right groin soreness) didn't pitch May 20-23. He is expected to be ready to pitch May 25.


RHP Brad Penny (strained upper back) went on the 15-day disabled list May 22. He might resume throwing in late May.

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