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Monday, June 16, 2008

Rotation situation

Rotation situation

The Cardinals have tentatively listed Todd Wellemeyer as Thursday’s starting pitcher against the Kansas City Royals but will wait until Wellemeyer completes a Tuesday bullpen to make it stick.

Wellemeyer cited elbow stiffness after Friday’s abbreviated outing within a 20-2 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies, prompting a Sunday conversation with general manager John Mozeliak and team trainers. The club is reluctant to start Wellemeyer if any question lingers about the elbow. Friday’s start came on seven days’ rest following elbow tightness in Washington.

One option the club apparently will not consider should Wellemeyer need more time is Mark Mulder.

"He needs to pitch enough to where he really feels good about coming to the big leagues," manager Tony La Russa said after Sunday’s 10-inning win. "There is no way to know that yet."

Asked for a potential timetable, La Russa said, "I think he’ll pitch one more, for sure, then maybe another one and another one. I don’t know. We need him to come up and be Mark Mulder."

Mulder reported no negative side effects Sunday from Saturday’s five shutout innings in a rehab start at Double-A Springfield. Special assignment scout Alan Benes filed a positive report citing Mulder’s improved command and consistent velocity from a lower arm slot. However, the outing was Mulder’s first since a previous rehab was shut down last month.

Matt Clement started the second game of Springfield’s Saturday doubleheader but apparently is considered an emergency option only. Clement’s velocity remains a concern almost two years after he required shoulder reconstruction.

After working Sunday’s 10th inning, Anthony Reyes could be available Thursday, or La Russa and pitching coach Dave Duncan could also install Kyle Lohse on regular rest.

Given today’s off day, Lohse is now scheduled to start Friday’s opener at Fenway Park against the defending world champion Boston Red Sox.

Brad Thompson, disabled since April 23 with a right elbow condition, earned Saturday’s win for Triple-A Memphis by throwing five innings at Round Rock. Thompson allowed four runs, including a solo home run.

Joel Pineiro is scheduled to start Tuesday’s series opener followed by Braden Looper on Wednesday.

Lohse Significance

Kyle Lohse (8-2) was among the last free agents pitchers to sign last winter. He is also one of the most effective.

Lohse’s eight-inning appearance Saturday afternoon made him one of only two pitchers to win at least eight games this year after switching teams last offseason. The Cincinnati Reds’ Edinson Volquez (9-2) has emerged as the league’s second-leading winner after coming over in a trade from the Texas Rangers. The deal sent MVP candidate Josh Hamilton to the Rangers.

Lohse has earned six wins this season in which he lasted six innings or less. Only the New York Yankees’ Mike Mussina (7) and Cardinals teammate Braden Looper (6) have as many, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

Lohse leads the major leagues in win percentage (.857) since last July 25. Saturday marked Lohse’s fifth consecutive win, making him the first pitcher since Camilo Pascual in 1959 to win five straight starts after enduring a losing record each of the four previous years.

Roster Move Cometh

The Cardinals are likely to promote a catcher from Memphis to back up Jason La Rue while Yadier Molina recovers from what the club reported Sunday as a mild concussion.

Molina is not likely to be disabled; however, the Cardinals are likely to revert to 12 pitchers for at least several days to give themselves insurance. Prospect Bryan Anderson and veteran Mark Johnson are catching at Memphis. Neither is on the 40-man roster but Johnson may rate the edge due to four-plus years’ major-league service. Johnson, 32, was with the Chicago White Sox for full seasons in 1999, 2000 and 2002. He last appeared in the major leagues for seven games with the 2004 Milwaukee Brewers.

Carpenter to be Examined

Birmingham, Ala., orthopedist Dr. James Andrews will examine Chris Carpenter today and offer a second opinion regarding persistent near the former Cy Young Award winner’s right forearm. A nerve problem is suspected but Andrews’ opinion is being sought regarding whether corrective surgery is needed.

The club shut down Carpenter after a bullpen throw last Wednesday. Carpenter reported particular problems when he attempted to throw breaking pitches. He is rehabilitating from shoulder surgery last July 25.

Miles Deals Again

Infielder Aaron Miles is understandably proud about Friday’s shutout ninth inning against the Phillies.

Miles has made three relief appearances the last two seasons, allowing three this without a walk or a strikeout in three innings. (He has hit a batter.) Miles took damage last season when Houston Astros catcher J.R. Towles reached him for a home run at Busch Stadium but sports a 6.00 ERA.

Miles warmed up Friday in the indoor batting cage by throwing to third baseman Troy Glaus. He never attempted a breaking pitch but admitted to throwing a change-up

"I took everybody’s advice and didn’t try to throw as hard as I could," Miles said. "If it has some movement I’ve got a chance."


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