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Back spasms keep Waino from scheduled start

Cardinals turn to Ponce de Leon for second-half opener vs. D-backs
@anne__rogers
July 12, 2019

ST. LOUIS -- Daniel Ponce de Leon started in place of Adam Wainwright for the Cardinals’ series opener against the D-backs on Friday night and could have pitched his way to another start. Ponce de Leon gave up just one run in 6 2/3 innings in the Cardinals’ 4-2 loss.

ST. LOUIS -- Daniel Ponce de Leon started in place of Adam Wainwright for the Cardinals’ series opener against the D-backs on Friday night and could have pitched his way to another start.

Ponce de Leon gave up just one run in 6 2/3 innings in the Cardinals’ 4-2 loss. He struck out seven and didn’t walk a batter, making it his first Major League start in which he didn’t allow a walk.

Wainwright was scratched because of back spasms. The 37-year-old right-hander is 5-7 this year with a 4.31 ERA. He’s coming off a five-inning, two-run outing on July 3 against Seattle in the Cardinals’ 5-2 win.

Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said Wainwright came to Busch Stadium on Thursday with the back spasms, and they wanted to see how he recovered overnight. Shildt said Wainwright could have pitched Friday, but there wasn’t reason to push it, especially with Ponce de Leon on enough rest and stretched out after playing catch during an optional workout Thursday.

“You make plans, things happen,” Shildt said. “That’s normal. It just happened to be the first day out of the gate. Good news is, our guys are capable of starting against anybody, and everybody else is in line, so we’ll see when Waino plugs back in.”

Wainwright won’t miss a start, Shildt said, and could go as early as Sunday against the D-backs, pushing Miles Mikolas and the rest of the rotation back a day.

It didn’t hurt to have Ponce de Leon ready to be plugged into whatever role that the Cardinals need him. Before Friday night, the 27-year-old rookie made three solid spot starts for the Cardinals this season and most recently solidified himself as a long relief pitcher. He has a 1.20 ERA in those three starts (15 innings), and in his last three appearances, he allowed four earned runs in 10 innings. He struck out nine in 5 1/3 innings against the Padres on June 30 and notched his first Major League win with 2 2/3 scoreless innings on July 4 against the Mariners.

Ponce de Leon has earned high praise from the Cardinals while filling the variety of roles. Shildt said the right-hander earned more opportunities to start after his last outing -- two scoreless innings on July 6 against the Giants.

Carpenter back, but not in leadoff

Matt Carpenter, who was activated off of the injured list Thursday (lower back strain), was back at third base and in the lineup for the Cardinals on Friday night. But rather than batting leadoff, where he’s usually at, he batted in the fifth spot and went 1-for-4 with a single in the first inning.

Tommy Edman, playing second base, continued batting leadoff. Edman, who split time at third with Yairo Munoz while Carpenter was out, is slashing .283/.309/.547 since being called up in the beginning of June. Before Friday, he hit leadoff in eight games and batted .375 in the first inning of those eight games. Against the D-backs, Edman went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.

“[The lineup] will be fluid,” Shildt said. “We feel like [Edman has] done a nice job in the leadoff spot. He’s proven that. Then you look up where all the guys have slotted in, and it just felt like a good spot for [Carpenter] to be in the lineup, middle of the lineup, and we’ll see what he can do.”

Going into Friday, Carpenter, who last played on June 28, is hitting .216 this season with a .706 OPS. Both of those would be his worst marks for any complete season in which he played at least double-digit games.

“I think there was some benefit for Carp to get away a little bit, get healthy and be ready to go and get after it,” Shildt said.

Anne Rogers covers the Cardinals for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @anne__rogers and on Facebook.