Stop me if you've heard this one before. But early reports from St. Louis Cardinals spring training indicate that lefty hurler Jaime Garcia finally appears to be healthy.
CBS sports reporter Jon Heyman reported Sunday that the Redbirds are pleased about what they've seen from the 28-year-old southpaw who is in the final year of a four-year contract. He's been troubled by shoulder-related injuries since the middle of the 2011 season.
It will be interesting to see how the Cardinals handle Garcia if he proves to be good to go when the regular season starts. There is little doubt the Birds can use the starting pitching depth with Adam Wainwright suffering an abdominal injury in spring training and Michael Wacha's future uncertain because of the stress reaction in his pitching shoulder that took a huge bite out of his 2014 season. But the question is how to fit six guys into five spots before those or any other injury issues have a chance to simmer to the surface.
St. Louis could try to go with a six-man rotation to lessen the load on Wainwright and Wacha as well as 36-year-old starter John Lackey. But that could prevent finely-tuned major league pitchers from getting comfortable or in a groove and thereby could cause more problems than it solves.
If I was in charge I think I would bump Carlos Martinez to the bullpen and send Marco Gonzales to Class AAA.
I would like to see Martinez, who has great stuff but a history of inconsistency, be used as the first right handed guy out of the 'pen. It could help his development to come into some tight spots and be asked to put out the fire. It would sharpen his focus and his confidence to be given one task when he's fresh.
If Gonzales was stretched out in Memphis he'd be ready to jump into the MLB rotation and fill in the minute an injury pops up. Besides, the guy rocketed through the minor leagues so fast that he's only made eight appearances at the AAA level. It wouldn't be a bad thing to let him mature a little bit in the minors. And that's probably better for his development than sitting in the bullpen waiting to mop up as a long reliever.
It is extremely unlikely that the Cardinals will keep Garcia beyond 2016. So, over the long haul, this is a problem that will solve itself and the Birds could see both Martinez and Gonzales in the rotation next year. So it make sense to put them in the best position to stick when they arrive at their goal.