Cardinals will begin regular season without Flaherty and Reyes

UPDATE: Jack Flaherty had a PRP injection in his right shoulder on Friday and will be shut down for the next two weeks, the Cardinals said, meaning both he and Alex Reyes will begin the regular season on the injured list. Reyes had an injection in his shoulder on Wednesday and also has been ordered to rest for two weeks, when a rehab program will be designed for both pitchers.
By Rob Rains

JUPITER, Fla. – It appears likely the Cardinals will begin the regular season without two key members of their pitching staff.

While the team was awaiting the results of a review of examinations on Jack Flaherty’s right shoulder on Wednesday, Alex Reyes was away from the spring training camp getting an injection into his sore right shoulder.

Manager Oli Marmol said he would know more about Flaherty’s status after the medical personnel’s review, but said about Reyes it would be “really tough” for him to be ready to pitch, even in relief, by opening day on April 7.

“That would be pushing it,” he said.

Flaherty said Wednesday the discomfort in his shoulder had bothered him since the end of last season, and it appears both he and Reyes were affected by not being able to communicate with team medical personnel during the lockout.

Flaherty, expected to be the team’s top starter this season, missed much of last year because of injuries. Even though he would not directly answer the question, it appears he did not throw off a mound while training in the offseason.

Even if the medical review comes back without a recommendation for further procedures, the shortened spring training schedule makes it almost impossible for Flaherty to be able to get in enough work to begin the season in the rotation. He would need at least two bullpen sessions and two live batting practice outings before he would be ready to start pitching in a game.

Reyes, who was the Cardinals’ closer for much of last season, had an injection at Dr. James Andrews’ facility in Pensacola, Fla. He is expected back in camp on Friday, at which time the Cardinals will develop a pitching plan for him.

“It’s obviously not ideal to have players reporting and then have them go get followup medical exams,” said John Mozeliak, president of baseball operations, in an interview on MLB Network Radio. “Our fingers are crossed that this is not going to be something that’s going to linger too long.

“But we also want to be smart and prudent. This is going to be a very unique spring training … we have to be really strategic on how we think about pitching in the month of April and hopefully by the time you get to May you have enough people built up where you can see a little bit of normalcy … there are some real concerns on how we handle pitching moving forward.”

Flaherty said he really wasn’t able to comment on his status until he also knew what the doctors found during their review.

“It had been a little bit of discomfort since the end of last season,” he said. “They just wanted to get another look at it.

“The lockout made things difficiult to have any kind of communication, really any communication at all. … They (the medical personnel) haven’t been able to have their hands on me at all. I’m not going to know anything until they (the medical reviews)come back.”

Marmol said the injuries definitely were “not ideal” but doesn’t have enough information yet to predict how long either Flahert or Reyes will be out.

“We’ll figure out what’s really going on and what that plan looks like,” he said.

Marmol already has a plan for the first three games of the spring training schedule, with Adam Wainwright set to start the opener on Friday against the Astros. That would line him to make the start in the regular-season opener.

Miles Mikolas will get the start on Sunday (there is no game on Saturday) followed by newcomer Steven Matz on Monday. Dakota Hudson is the team’s other projected starter.

Who will replace Flaherty in the rotation likely depends at least in part on how long he will be out.

“Somebody has to step up.” Marmol said. “We have no idea how long either one will be; hopefully not too long.”

Marmol also had an update on the two players who have yet to report to camp – pitcher Giovanny Gallegos, who has been dealing with a personal issue in Mexico, is expected to arrive on Thursday.

It still is unknown, Marmol said, on when catcher Yadier Molina will report. All the team has said about his absence is that it also is for personal reasons.

“We’re still waiting to hear on how he’s doing and what that timetable looks like,” Marmol said. “I wanted to give him some space. We’re talking about one of the most competitive humans on the Earth so if he’s not here it’s for a reason. When he’s ready we’ll be ready.”

Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains

Photo by AP courtesy of KSDK Sports

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