St. Louis Cardinals

Mozeliak: National League considering DH; Lynn talks elbow injury, Carpenter on Cubs

Momentum is building for the National League to adopt the designated hitter.

That was the word from St. Louis Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak on Saturday at the team’s 20th annual Winter Warm-Up.

“I get that question every year here and I do feel like there were times I could look all of you in the face and say that’s a non-starter, it’s not being discussed at owner level or GM (level),” Mozeliak said. “But over the last year, it has. I’m not suggesting or saying you’re going to see a change, but I definitely think the momentum of having down offense at the major-league level is something that people are starting to consider.”

Mozeliak said he and Cardinals Chairman Bill DeWitt remain opposed to the DH.

“That’s not to say that we would not be open-minded to it if there was a big swell to push,” said Mozeliak, adding that NL teams also are not in favor of using the DH for interleague games.

“It has been discussed,” he said. “But teams that don’t have a DH aren’t really in favor of playing more games with the DH because it’s a roster disadvantage. That’s just not something from the National League standpoint makes a whole lot of sense at the moment.”

The current Collective Bargaining Agreement between owners and the players’ union expires at the end of this season. Mozeliak said adding the DH in the NL for 2017 probably would be too quick.

Lynn knew elbow was injured

Beginning last May, Cardinals right-hander Lance Lynn sensed something was wrong with his elbow.

“Every time I started, I had to deal with certain things. We just had to get through them,” Lynn said Saturday at the Cardinals’ 20th annual Winter Warm-Up.

Lynn survived the season, but the cost was the 2016 season. He underwent Tommy John surgery in November and won’t pitch again until 2017.

“At the end of the year, we looked at (the elbow) and it was not good, so we got it fixed,” Lynn said. “I was able to pitch effectively, at times. And then, at times, I wasn’t able to do what I wanted to do, but I was able to get through it.

“There were games I didn’t even use breaking pitches because it didn’t feel good. I just got by with what I had that night.”

Lynn underwent an MRI in June that led to a trip to the disabled list because of a right forearm strain. The plan was to also use that time to strengthen the ligament in the elbow.

“It was just (about) strengthening it up and seeing if I can get through the year,” said Lynn, who finished 12-11 with a 3.03 ERA and did not work in the playoffs.

“At the time I went on the DL ... it was either I could rehab and see if I could pitch the rest of the year, or have the surgery then – if that was the road we wanted to go down. With that amount (of the season left) and where we were at, I decided to pitch. We were able to win some games, so I don’t regret that at all.”

Lynn said he delayed surgery until November with the hope that rest would help. By then, the ligament condition couldn’t be addressed without surgery.

“I was trying to see if it would stop hurting, and it didn’t,” Lynn said.

Carpenter on Heyward, Cubs

Pitcher John Lackey and right fielder Jason Heyward defected to the Chicago Cubs, the Cardinals’ biggest rivals, through free agency in December.

After coming to terms with the Cubs, Heyward said one of the factors that led him to Chicago was the team’s core of young players.

But Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter said it didn’t take Heyward’s comments to make the Cardinals determined to knock off the Cubs.

“I can promise you this: We don’t have to take a clipping of a newspaper (article) and pin it on the bulletin board to motivate these guys to want to beat the Cubs,” Carpenter said. “There’s nothing that Jason Heyward said where it’s like, ‘OK, now we’re going to play hard.’ We’re going to go after them no matter what. Jason could be playing in New York and we would go after the Cubs.

“It’s going to be a fun season. The fact that they’re continually improving is motivation enough that we want to go after them and show them that this is our division to lose.”

Carpenter said he didn’t believe Heyward intended to take a swing at the Cardinals by noting they an aging core of players led by Matt Holliday (36), Adam Wainwright (34) and Yadier Molina (33). Certainly, he took no exception to it.

“I’ve even talked to (Heyward) about it,” Carpenter said. “I think that came out a little different than he meant for that to come out. You don’t want to tell those guys that. You don’t want to tell Matt, ‘Hey, you’re aging and our core here is falling apart between you and Adam and Yadi.’

“Those guys ... are as seasoned and have veteran leadership you can’t quantify and you can’t take for granted. We have a group of guys who have played in a substantial number of postseason games, (have made) postseason runs and (have been) on World Series winners. That’s extremely valuable. You can’t say that about some of the other teams in baseball. I’m pretty glad to be a part of this aging core.”

Garcia’s winter

It hasn’t been a normal offseason for left-hander Jaime Garcia, who for the first time in recent memory hasn’t had to spend it rehabilitating an injury.

“It’s been a long time,” said Garcia, who was 10-6 with a 2.43 ERA in 20 starts. “At the same time, you think about those tough times. you learn from them, and you move forward. All I can say is that I’m extremely grateful and excited to have an opportunity to play for the St. Louis Cardinals again. To be here. To be healthy. I’m going to do my best to help the team win this year.”

Garcia opened the season on the disabled list with shoulder fatigue and sorenes, and went to the DL again in June with a groin strain. He was 7-3 with a 2.87 ERA in his final 13 starts. The Cardinals exercised their $11.5 million option on Garcia on Nov. 2.

“To be honest with you, I didn’t think about it at all until it happeneed,” Garcia said. “I got a phone call from my agent (Melvin Roman) saying they were going to do that, and I was excited. I try not to focus about things like that. I try to just worry about the things that I can control. But obviously, I’m excited to be back with the Cardinalss. I’m excited to be back with my teammates. I’m definitely looking forward to this year.”

Garcia’s season didn’t end on a high note. He took the mound in Game 2 of the National League Division Series despite being under the weather and was the loser in the Cardinals’ 6-3 defeat to the Cubs. Garcia lasted only two innings and hurt his own cause with a throwing error in the Cubs’ five-run second.

“You prepare all year for that,” Garcia said. “I wanted to be out there so bad. But like I said, you learn from that. You put it in the past. We lost that game and the series. But you move forward.”

David Wilhelm: 618-239-2665, @DavidMWilhelm

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