Another St. Louis Cardinals pitcher joined the disabled list Friday when Lance Lynn was diagnosed with a strained right forearm.
Lynn (4-4, 3.07 ERA), who said he has been pitching through the discomfort since his second start of the season in April, is expected to be able to return to duty as soon as the DL period is over. The move is retroactive to Monday, meaning Lynn can be activated June 23.
“I like to pitch, but a little forearm strain, as it looks right now, it should be a normal 15 days,” Lynn said Friday. “We’ll make sure we get everything calmed down to make sure it’s not something that flares up as the whole year goes on. Don’t try to push through something and make it worse or make something else flare up.”
Left-hander Tyler Lyons has been recalled from Class AAA Memphis and will take Lynn’s start at 3:10 p.m. Saturday against the Kansas City Royals. Lyons is 5-2 with a 2.61 ERA in eight starts at Memphis. He was 0-0 with a 5.54 ERA in three starts with the Cardinals in May.
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Tim Cooney also represented a quality option for the Cardinals. The talented left-hander, who made one skittish start for the Cardinals on April 30 against the Philadelphia Phillies, has been pitching effectively at Memphis, where he is 5-2 with a 2.51 ERA.
“Lyons has thrown very well since he’s been down there. So has Cooney,” Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak said. “But we really felt like Tyler deserved this shot and we want to give it to him. So he’ll get that chance (Saturday) and hopefully he takes advantage of it.”
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said the team has confidence in Lyons.
“Tyler has been throwing the ball extremely well and we believe he’s going to translate that here. We’ll give him an opportunity,” Matheny said. “When something happens, it usually creates that chance for someone to come in and really shine, and we believe Tyler can get it done.
“A lot of it is just an execution situation. A lot of it is concentration. And just figuring out consistency. Consistency is usually what separates guys who stick around here from guys who keep bouncing back and forth.”
Lynn joins fellow starter Adam Wainwright on the disabled list. Wainwright is sidelined for the season with a torn left Achilles’ tendon. Left fielder Matt Holliday (right quad strain), first baseman Matt Adams (right quad strain) and reliever Jordan Walden (right biceps strain) also are on the DL. Adams will miss the remainder of the season.
Lynn prides himself on being available and pitching deep into games, yet he understands the Cardinals are thinking long-term, so he offered little resistance to the move.
“Lance is a pro,” Matheny said. “He’s getting better all the time with understanding his role as one of our go-to guys. He’s wanting to take this time to get stronger, get healed up and get ready for us the rest of the day.
“He didn’t have much to say in the matter, to be honest. He knows we’re out for his good and we have talented people on the medical side who are going to look and see what they see and give us a good evaluation of where he is and what would be best for him to have a good finish to the season, which is not necessarily battling through something right now.”
Mozeliak said the Cardinals were not inclined to “push through this” injury to Lynn, even though Lynn considers it a minor matter.
“I talked to him (Thursday) and he already was sensing improvement,” Mozeliak said. “Just allowing him some time and not having to make this next start is in his best interests. Unfortunately, it’s hard to just skip one and then feel pressure to start the next. So we just thought it would be easier for everyone involved to give him 15 days.
“I think this is something, if he had to, he could pitch through. But it just doesn’t make sense for him. He’s such a key part of our rotation that keeping him healthy long-term makes much more sense than trying to deal with something short-term.”
Lynn agreed that he could continue to pitch through the strain.
“As innings went on, I would get looser,” Lynn said. “It didn’t get worse as innings went on, it got better. So that was a plus and that was always what I felt the first couple of warmup pitches. Once I got going, everything seemed to be all right every time. Just the ability to get going in innings sometimes was a struggle.”
Lynn said his desire to remain active is “part of the competitor in me.”
“I want to pitch,” he said. “If I feel like I can throw a baseball, I feel like I can pitch. Sometimes it’s not smart. They’re the smart ones. They have the degrees, so I listen to them.”
Walden, Gonzales updates
Mozeliak said Walden began playing catch this week and believes he could be back in the bullpen mix before the All-Star break in July.
“As far as a time frame yet, I don’t think we have that,” Mozeliak said. “I think he’s inching closer to getting back to where he can rejoin the club at some point.”
Memphis left-hander Marco Gonzales, sidelined by a shoulder impingement, is headed for the Cardinals’ rehab program in Jupiter, Fla.
“That’s a good sign,” Mozeliak said. “He can begin his throwing program.”
Mozeliak said Gonzales could resume pitching by the end of June, with a possible return to the big-league team after the All-Star break.
No trades – yet
Mozeliak said the Cardinals are confident they can absorb the loss of Holliday from within, noting the outfield depth provided by Jason Heyward, Randal Grichuk, Jon Jay and Peter Bourjos. Mark Reynolds also can be used in the outfield, most likely in left.
“When we talk about Matt Holliday, I’m still not exactly sure of the length of that (injury),” Mozeliak said. “We’ll revisit that in a couple of weeks and see where he’s at. But there is a level of optimism there. So as we look at this club and try to figure out a way to stay competitive and keep it fresh, we hope our internal options are there for us. If not, of course, we’ll look outside. We have two months to do it.”
Mozeliak said he is most concerned about the Cardinals’ lack of depth on the bench, and that the team could consider changes to the roster after the weekend series against the Royals.