Notes: Elledge's first win; Seijas outrighted

August 22nd, 2020

ST. LOUIS -- Faced with his second bases-loaded situation in his seven-day Major League career on Thursday night against the Reds, rookie reliever focused on what he has learned most since his promotion to the big leagues: His pitches play.

Elledge was tasked with the top of the ninth inning and preserving a two-run Cardinals deficit before they walked it off in the bottom of the inning, and he didn’t have his best command. He walked Freddy Galvis, who was then caught stealing for the first out. Elledge got the second out with a fly ball to left field. But then Joey Votto doubled, Nick Castellanos walked and Jesse Winker walked to load the bases for cleanup hitter Eugenio Suárez.

With two of his signature sinkers, Elledge put Suárez in an 0-2 count quickly. Suárez fouled off another sinker and took the fourth one, but then Elledge got him to swing through a slider to end the at-bat and get out of the jam. When the Cardinals won the game, Elledge also notched his first career win.

“One of the better sliders I threw in the inning,” Elledge said. “I just knew the situation at hand, wanted to attack him and not fall behind in the count. A little bit of a different walk-off celebration, but it was a lot of fun and great experience to get that first win.”

The Cardinals’ No. 28 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, Elledge was called up this past weekend to provide relief in a short-handed bullpen facing a lot of innings. As pitchers build up after a long layoff due to a COVID-19 outbreak, Elledge was one of the few players on the roster able to throw and face hitters at the Cardinals’ alternate training site in Springfield, Mo., which continued when the Cardinals’ season was paused.

And he’s largely come through for the Cardinals, appearing in three games and striking out eight. In his debut against the White Sox on Sunday, he struck out five in 2 2/3 innings.

“I’d say the biggest thing [I’ve learned] is that I can trust my pitches in the strike zone,” Elledge said. “My pitches play at this level. I feel like I’ve gotten a lot of swings and misses and a lot of bad swings, so I think just the ability to trust my stuff in the zone and against these hitters, I feel really confident moving forward.”

Seijas outrighted, removed from player pool
Right-hander Alvaro Seijas has been outrighted off the 40-man roster and removed from the 60-man player pool, the Cardinals announced in the third inning of Friday’s game against the Reds. The move clears a spot on the 40-man roster for one of the nine players on the COVID-19 injured list -- like All-Star shortstop Paul DeJong -- to return soon without removing anyone on the current roster from the 40-man.

Seijas, 21, was put on the 40-man roster in the offseason to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft. He had a 2.81 ERA in 24 starts across two levels (Class A Peoria and Class A Advanced Palm Beach) in 2019. With his name withdrawn from the player pool, it also opens a spot there if the Cardinals were to add there. The Cardinals currently have 45 players on their 40-man roster, with the five extra replacing some of the players on the COVID-19 injured list. If and when those players return, the Cardinals will have to make a subsequent transaction on the 40-man roster.

Kim’s starter superstitions are back
When Kwang-Hyun Kim was moved to the bullpen and assigned as the Cardinals' closer at the beginning of the season, one of the things he talked about was how his superstitions as a starter would have to be put on the back burner because he didn’t know when he’d pitch.

One month later, Kim is in the rotation. So, too, are his superstitions. A day before a start, he doesn’t eat meat because he doesn’t want to feel “heavy or dull” on the mound the next day, he said Tuesday through interpreter Craig Choi. He also has a specific time he goes out to play catch, about 30 minutes before first pitch. He’s already to had to adjust that, though, because he found out that Wrigley Field didn’t have an electronic clock to ensure that he followed the timeline to the exact second. When he makes his second start of the season Saturday at Busch Stadium, he’ll be sure to have a clock with him.

“I’m always on time playing catch, even at the right second,” Kim said. “But Wrigley didn’t have that, so maybe I was a second fast or late. From now on, I’ll try to have a clock. That’s something I’ll have to watch out for before I pitch.”

Worth noting
• Infielders Rangel Ravelo and Edmundo Sosa and reliever Junior Fernández have joined shortstop Paul DeJong in Springfield to get in at-bats and, in Fernández’s case, throw bullpen sessions and eventually face live hitters. Manager Mike Shildt also said that reliever Kodi Whitley is “on his way” to the alternate training site. All five of those players are working their way back after going on the COVID-19 injured list while the team was in Milwaukee earlier this month.

• Reliever Ryan Helsley played catch at Busch Stadium on Friday with Carlos Martínez, who threw a bullpen session Thursday. Martínez tested positive for COVID-19 while in Milwaukee, while Helsley was in the second group who tested positive when the team returned to St. Louis a week later.