There was a different air about the ballpark Tuesday afternoon as the Cardinals were set to welcome back two star players on the same night. Yadier Molina and Carlos Martinez have been activated from the DL and will both make their returns to the starting lineup Tuesday when St. Louis hosts Miami at Busch Stadium.
“It’s nice to hopefully turn the corner on removing guys from the DL more than putting guys on the DL,” Cardinals GM Mike Girsch said. “And obviously these two are… One’s a Cardinal legend and one’s on his way to being one, hopefully. So it’s a great way to start the series.”
It’s been exactly a month since Molina suffered a traumatic pelvic hematoma on May 5th. The Cardinals managed to tread water without him, going 13-13 in that stretch.
Now, the ‘Birds are ready to soar with their leader back in the mix.
“That’s the caballo. It means everything, it really does,” Harrison Bader said of having Yadier Molina back. “That’s the glue on the field, on defense, in the dugout. He’s a presence, so to have him back is something that I’m very much looking forward to.”
Question answered: Why did Carlos Martinez miss more time than expected?
Not to be overlooked, Carlos Martinez returns to the mound for St. Louis Tuesday after missing a few starts with a right lat strain. Though the Cardinals initially expected his absence to be a bit shorter than it was, they’re confident the decision to take it slow was the right one for his recovery.
“We’re just being very careful with Carlos,” Girsch said. “When we thought we could do it quicker, it became evident that we should slow down, and so we did. There wasn’t a particular test or particular thing that went wrong, it was a combination of a few things that made it so that we decided just to slow down. And once you keep him off the mound, ramping him back up…Once it’s not one start, then you kinda need a rehab start, which then makes it quickly become three. It’s a slippery slope once you keep him off the mound too long, and we were just trying to be conservative.”
Once the Cardinals realized the initial speculation that Martinez might only miss one start was a bit too ambitious, there really was no benefit to immediately ramping him back up to a big-league setting upon his return.
Martinez’s missed games might cost him a little in the stat-book for All-Star consideration (he’s 3-2 with a 1.62 ERA in 50 innings this season), but as long as he returns healthy, there’s no reason the time off should be more than a minor detour in an otherwise excellent campaign.
‘Guilmetting’ another chance
When the Cardinals called him up Tuesday, Preston Guilmet rejoined a big league roster for the first time since 2015 when he spent short stints with the Rays and Brewers. He has an 8.22 ERA in 19 career MLB games, but spent last season in Japan, where he said he improved his ability to pound the strike zone.
Guilmet joined the Cardinals in January on a minor-league deal with a spring invite. Though he didn’t make the team right out of spring, he still had an element of confidence in signing with St. Louis: he knew his next MLB opportunity could be earned on the field.
“One thing about the Cardinals was always if you go out there and perform, you get an opportunity,” Guilmet said of joining the Cardinals. “I just rolled with that. Everything I’ve heard about this organization is great, so I’m just happy to have the opportunity here.”
After landing in Memphis to begin the season, Guilmet did everything possible to catch the attention of the higher-ups in the organization as he carved out a role as the Redbirds’ closer. According to Mike Girsch, Guilmet was under consideration for a promotion based on his numbers in AAA alone—he saved 11 games with a 0.93 ERA and 35 Ks in 29 innings—but the Cardinals had other reasons for urgency in purchasing his contract when they did.
There existed language in Guilmet’s contract that stated if the Cardinals did not call him up by a certain date, the team would have to notify other clubs that Guilmet was eligible to accept a 25-man roster spot on another team if any clubs were interested in his services.
That process forced the Cardinals hand this week, as they did not want to risk losing him to another club before having the opportunity to see how his stuff might play in the majors this time around.
So now he’s here, again hoping for that next opportunity to prove himself.
Girsch shares updates on injured pitchers
Mike Girsch offered a variety of updates Tuesday on the numerous pitchers St. Louis has on the disabled list. Possibly the closest to returning are Greg Holland and Matt Bowman, who both threw bullpens Tuesday. Assuming they recover appropriately, they could be sent on rehab assignments in the not-too-distant future.
“We’re getting to the point where we might be starting rehabs as soon as this week, or we might have one more bullpen (before that time),” Girsch said. “We’re in that spot where it’s about time to make a decision.”
Girsch described Luke Gregerson’s recovery process as lagging behind Holland and Bowman, though not due to any specific setback. Gregerson is throwing, but has not reached the point of throwing bullpen sessions in recent days.
Girsch also confirmed that Alex Reyes’ consultation with a specialist for a second opinion on his injured lat would take place Wednesday. Girsch did not have an update on Adam Wainwright, indicating the long-term nature of his potential recovery.
In a bizarre turn of events, reliever Ryan Sherriff posted to his Instagram account Tuesday a photo with a caption stating he had underwent Tommy John surgery, which would indicate the end to his 2018 season. The Cardinals have not yet offered an official comment on his status.
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