Trevor Rosenthal won’t pitch in Monday’s game against the Minnesota Twins after dealing with tightness in the latissimus muscle in his right arm, according to ESPN.com’s Mark Saxson.
General manager John Mozeliak doesn’t believe the injury will be a long-term issue, but if it does persist, Rosenthal will be sent for further tests.
With Alex Reyes undergoing season-ending Tommy John surgery, a new battle has opened up for the fifth spot in the Cardinal’s rotation. Rosenthal has shown interest in making it into the rotation as a starter, and St. Louis manager Mike Matheny is now making steps to give him that opportunity.
Rosenthal went 2-4, with a 4.46 ERA in 45 appearances last season and will more than likely serve as the set-up man to closer Seung-hwan Oh this season. Although, prior to serving as closer in 2014 and 2015, Rosenthal came into the conversation when discussing the starting rotation.
Rosenthal, a hard-throwing right-hander, carries a fastball that reaches the high 90s as well as a change-up. If he wants to make a push for the starting rotation, Rosenthal will need to develop a few more pitches to add into his arsenal.
After this first week of spring training games, it still appears as though Michael Wacha will take over the fifth spot in the starting rotation, although there is still some concern over the shoulder injury that he dealt with last season.
The Cardinals are battling a number of injuries early on in spring training, but Matheny doesn’t think these injuries will be a major concern as they are often expected.
“When something is wrong, there is always the potential for something to go wrong even further into the spring,” Matheny told reporters. “I’d love to see every guy healthy all season long, but that’s kind of fantasy land.”
Even in fantasy land, the Cardinals still have another month before their regular season opener against the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs, so they can’t really afford to have any more guys go down, especially in the rotation and bullpen.
St. Louis is dealing with lingering injuries from last year including Lance Lynn, who’s coming off Tommy John surgery, Zach Duke, who still hasn’t been cleared to throw, and Tyler Lyons, who is limited in camp, but should be ready for the start of the season.
If the Rosenthal injury becomes a longer issue for St. Louis and Wacha isn’t prepared to take over the fifth starter role in terms of his innings limit, then Lyons could be a possibility for the fifth spot. There hasn’t been a ton of talk about him because he’s still limited, but Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch notes that having Lyons as a left-handed option is intriguing for the coaching staff.
The fifth rotation spot is one of the biggest topics of conversation in camp, but with a deep bullpen and a number of young arms in the minor league system, St. Louis still may opt to use shorter starts for some of the guys like Wacha and Lynn, who are coming off major injuries and depending on the bullpen more day-to-day.
Of course guys like Lynn and Mike Leake are expected to be innings eaters, so the bullpen doesn’t have to work long innings each day, but the option for Matheny to utilize his bullpen in an unconventional way is there.
Luckily for St. Louis, Matheny can give Rosenthal the proper time to rest and rehab his arm so by the time the season rolls around, he’ll be 100 percent.
[Featured Image by Scott Kane/Getty Images]