JUPITER, Fla. (KMOV) - Tony La Russa just confirmed what many in the local media had already suspected: Kyle McClellan is headed to the Cardinals bullpen.
La Russa met with the media in his office about twenty minutes ago and said McClellan will start the season as a relief pitcher. The Cardinals skipper says McClellan gives the team the best chance to win, and his presence adds needed depth to an already thin bullpen. "He's a teammate," La Russa said. "He wants to do what gives the team the best chance to win."
While McClellan's transition to the bullpen is news in and of itself, the move has implications for the fifth and final spot in the starting rotation.
McClellan was Jaime Garcia's biggest competition for that fifth spot over the last couple of weeks - Rich Hill pitched himself seemingly out of the battle and will pitch a Triple-A game today- , so we can almost be sure that the spot is now Garcia's to lose. La Russa confirmed as much, and said if Garcia pitches well today against the Twins, he might be ready to "officially" announce the job as his.
On another note involving Cardinal pitchers, La Russa announced that Chris Carpenter will start Opening Day, while Adam Wainwright will make the start in the home opener.