St. Louis Cardinals

Cardinals want pitching prospect Gonzales to enjoy offseason of rest, recovery

One of the St. Louis Cardinals’ most promising pitching prospects, left-hander Marco Gonzales, will not be rejoining the team in September.

Gonzales, 23, pitched in just one game with the Cardinals this season, and that came Sept. 1 when he was cuffed for four runs on seven hits in 2 2/3 innings against Washington. The Cardinals rallied for an 8-5 victory, allowing Gonzales to escape with a no-decision.

Gonzales, the Cardinals’ first-round pick (19th overall) in 2013 out of Gonzaga, was 1-5 with a 4.69 ERA in 18 starts with Memphis, Class AA Springfield and high-Class A Palm Beach.

A shoulder impingement was one of the main culprits for Gonzales’ rough season, and the Cardinals prefer that Gonzales returns home to Colorado for rest and recovery.

“I think more than anything else is him realizing, as well as we realize, this was a tough year for him,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “The shoulder injury is one that’s as difficult as any of them to completely rebound from and to have that crisp feel for all his pitches.

“We’re seeing hints of what he’s going to be and we have very high expectations of how he’s going to progress. But it’s a setback. To keep trying to push him right now ... Maybe it’s best to go and work on strength will allow him to get some time to rest and start over. That makes as much sense as anything.”

Gonzales was 4-2 with a 4.15 ERA in 10 games and five starts last season. His last start for Memphis was Sunday when he suffered the loss against Oklahoma City. Gonzales allowed five runs on 10 hits in 5 1/3 innings, with two walks and six strikeouts.

Gonzales at least will enter the offseason healthy.

“We know this kid can handle (the majors),” Matheny said. “We threw him right into the mix last year and I thought he responded as good as anybody. But to push him right now when he’s been compromised most of the season, I just don’t think is fair. He’s just fighting to feel good. Part of that is confidence from having some success. It’s hard to get that up here.”

Wong still ailing

Second baseman Kolten Wong missed his second consecutive start Tuesday against the Chicago Cubs with tightness in his left calf. Matt Carpenter made his sixth start of the season at second.

Wong pinch-hit Monday in the ninth inning of a 9-0 loss, striking out but reaching on a wild pitch by Zach Rosscup. He was lifted for pinch-runner Randal Grichuk.

“He’s doing OK,” Matheny said. “He’s still a little tight, so it’s going to be a day-to-day thing. We don’t know how this popped up, but it did and so we’re going to have to hold him out and go easy with him. We want to get ahead of this so we have him strong later.”

Peralta gets a day

Shortstop Jhonny Peralta leads the Cardinals in games with 134. The rock of the lineup was withheld Tuesday, however, on the heels of an 0-for-7 stretch and to get a breather before facing Cubs left-hander Jon Lester in the series finale at 12:45 p.m. Wednesday.

“You’ve got to look at the guys who have really been grinding,” Matheny said. “Yadi (Molina) has been grinding. That’s why getting him out (Monday) in the fourth makes senses, even though you hate ever ruling a team like ours out (and) that just never seems to stop. But the cost-reward there was getting him a little time off.

“Jhonny has been grinding. Matt Carpenter is a guy that has been grinding ever since day one. And there have been periods when Kolten’s been pushed really hard. Those three, in particular, have really pushed hard this year and we’ve got to find times, when we can, to get them a day.”

Belisle about ready

Reliever Matt Belisle (elbow) still hasn’t been activated, but continues to get closer and said Tuesday that he bounced back splendidly from his simulated game Sunday.

“He might need another time to throw,” Matheny said. “Where that will be, we’re still trying to figure that out.”

It’s the same story for the other injured Cardinals. Left fielder Matt Holliday and first baseman Matt Adams are taking baby steps in their recoveries from right quad strains. They have missed a combined 127 games, but could return in a week to 10 days.

Tuivailala returns

Reliever Sam Tuivailala rejoined the team from Class AAA Memphis on Tuesday. Tuivailala was pitching in some high-leverage situations in July before he was sent back to Memphis when the Cardinals needed an extra position player.

Might he continue to pitch in the late innings?

“I think it’s going to be mostly on need,” Matheny said. “Right now, I think the guys are all in a pretty good spot, but I’m not afraid to throw Sam in there. Mitch Harris, too. The last couple of times we’ve thrown him in, he’s figuring out ways to get good, quick outs and his stuff look sharp. So we’ve got some options.”

Contact reporter David Wilhelm at dwilhelm@bnd.com or 618-239-2665. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidMWilhelm.

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