Tyler Lyons is out of options and is a sure-fire bet to make the St. Louis Cardinals Opening Day roster.
Lyons, a 28-year-old left-hander who has started and relieved in his career, will open the season in the bullpen unless an injury occurs to one of the starters.
“It doesn’t matter to me,” said Lyons, whose 40 career games are equally divided between starts and relief appearances. “I’m just looking for a spot and somewhere to pitch. Where that is, that’s pretty irrelevant. I’m just trying to get ready for the season.”
The Cardinals are not able to send Lyons to the minor leagues without exposing him to waivers and run the risk of losing him to another team. But whatever the situation, Lyons is ready to do what the Cardinals desire.
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“I think that’s kind of how it is no matter how you think it or how I want it to be,” Lyons said. “You just kind of embrace it and accept it and make the best of whatever it is.
“Over the course of the last couple of years, I’ve had my fair share of starts and I’ve got some relief experience. I feel comfortable doing both. I wouldn’t say I prefer one or the other. I’m pretty good with either one. It’s not something I make a big deal out of.”
Lyons is 5-8 with a 5.20 ERA in 107 1/3 innings as a starter. He’s been dramatically more effective as a reliever, with a 1.91 ERA in 42 1/3 innings. He has pitched in three games this spring, two as a starter, and is 0-0 with a 7.50 ERA im six innings.
Lyons and Kevin Siegrist will likely be the left-side options in manager Mike Matheny’s bullpen. Marco Gonzales and Tim Cooney could be ticketed for Class AAA Memphis’ rotation.
Lyons enjoys the routine of being a starter, coming to the ballpark and knowing when he’s going to pitch. A reliever doesn’t enjoy the same perk.
“In an ideal world, you would like to know,” Lyons said. “But it’s just kind of the situation I’m in. You just kind of embrace it and make the most of it. There’s obviously a lot worse situations you could be in. For me, that’s my situation and I just try to make the most of it.”
Adam Wainwright said Saturday that the Cardinals’ bullpen is deeper and more talented than any year he can remember. Lyons also likes the way it’s shaping up.
Siegrist is coming off a big season, as is closer Trevor Rosenthal, who set a franchise record with 48 saves. Seth Maness, Miguel Socolovich, Jonathan Broxton, newcomer Seung Hwan Oh, Jordan Walden, Mitch Harris and Sam Tuivailala also are in the mix.
“You look at our pen and when guys are healthy, you’ve got guys who have been closers on different teams,” Lyons said, referring to Broxton and Oh, a former closer in the Korean League. “We have a lot of very versatile guys who will hopefully shorten the gap after the starter is done. It’s definitely a strong bullpen, especially if everyone’s healthy.”
Piscotty on mend
Stephen Piscotty’s left elbow was still wrapped Sunday morning and the outfielder said it was a bit sore, but he was looking forward to feeling better again soon.
Piscotty was hit by a pitch Saturday from New York Mets right-hander Stolmy Pimentel, whose command issues later in the sixth inning prompted his ejection.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny wasn’t at all pleased with Piscotty being hit, although neither Piscotty or Matheny believed it was intentional.
The Cardinals already are dealing with the loss of shortstop Jhonny Peralta, who is recovering from surgery to the torn ligament in his left thumb. Peralta will miss about two or three months.
Catcher Yadier Molina had two offseason surgeries on the torn ligament in his left thumb. Molina has played in two spring-training games but has yet to swing the bat in a game.
Leake to mound
Newcomer Mike Leake will make his second Grapefruit League start at 12:05 p.m. Monday when the Cardinals play host to Minnesota.
Leake worked two scoreless innings on Wednesday, a 5-3 loss to Miami. He allowed two hits and had two strikeouts.
Many of the Cardinals went to Viera, Fla., on Sunday, about a two-hour bus ride, to play the Washington Nationals. Other players remained in Jupiter to complete their work. Most departed the Roger Dean Stadium complex by noon.