JUPITER, Fl. (KMOV.com) -- Lance Lynn gave Cardinal fans a brief scare Saturday, exiting his fifth spring start after just 10 pitches.
“I guess you would call it a kink,” Lynn said afterward, describing the sensation in his upper back. “I felt it the first pitch.”
After a dugout conference with the Mike Matheny and the trainers, he was pulled from the game and headed back to the clubhouse for further tests.
However any concerns about the big righty evaporated when he emerged from the back door of the clubhouse carrying a large box. Dressed in street clothes, he casually lifted his cargo above his head with one hand, balancing it like a waiter. He was fine.
“As the inning went on I felt better and better. It was kind of one of those things where you get a little jolt, and then, OK , we're good,” he said.
Lynn got a chiropractic adjustment in the dugout and said everything felt back to 100 percent. He could have returned to action the next inning, but manager Mike Matheny decided against risking any sort of injury this close to the season’s start.
“I lobbied to stay in. But yeah, he's the manager. It was his call. It was probably smart,” he said. “During the regular season, it was something that would not have even been talked about. I would have just kept going. It was the right time to make sure it does not turn into anything big.”
Through four previous starts this spring, Lynn cruised. The righty came to camp fully healthy after missing 18 months with Tommy John surgery and appeared to be rust-free in each of his outings. He has a 1.20 ERA in 15 innings, striking out eight, walking two and allowing 12 hits.
With the early setback, Lynn will essentially lose an outing. However the team previously planned to shorten his final exhibition start- Thursday in Memphis against the Triple-A team- and could now use that outing to make up for lost pitches.
“Actually we can go ahead and let him throw his next start, just use this (Saturday) as a short one, then stretch him out,” Mike Matheny said. “He’ll be over 80 pitches on the next one which would set him up for full go when he gets his [first regular season start].”
Gant goes down
John Gant was tapped to replace Lynn after the starter’s abrupt exit, but ended up suffering a similar fate. The righty, acquired from the Braves in the Jaime Garcia trade, lasted just one inning as well, eventually being pulled due to right groin tightness.
“I think I caught it early. I don’t think it’s anything too serious,” Gant said, saying he felt discomfort at the end of his first inning of work. “I’m optimistic about it being a speedy recovery. Time will tell, though. We’ll see how I feel tomorrow.”
Gant had made a strong impression in camp, catching the eye of not only the manager but GM John Mozeliak. With injuries to Tyler Lyons and Marco Gonzales still lingering and Luke Weaver straining his back early in camp, the 24-year-old righty quickly positioned himself as an intriguing option for rotational depth. He will join Memphis as a member of their rotation, perhaps on the shortlist of call-ups should the Cardinals need a spot starter.
“You want to have a couple options because on any given night, it might not line up,” Mozeliak said. “He’s had a very nice spring for us. I think he does bring you some versatility.”
Gant threw 12 innings and struck out 10, holding hitters to a .175 average while allowing just two earned runs. His injury Saturday likely means his tenure in big league camp is done, but he leaves having done all he can to stay on the radar.
“I’ve just tried to make the most of all opportunities I’ve been given. Every time I get to go out there and wear the Cardinals jersey, I try to do my best. And, God willing, everything will work out,” he said.