ST. LOUIS -- Frustrated after a 2 2/3-inning start for Triple-A Memphis on Thursday, longtime Cardinals top prospect Alex Reyes punched a wall with his left hand and subsequently fractured his left pinkie finger.
That decision and resulting injury will take Reyes out of active competition for the next three weeks and means that it’ll likely be at least a month before he’d be considered ready to return to St. Louis. Because the injury is to his non-pitching hand, Reyes will continue throwing, though now in an extended spring training setting and without clearance to catch, field or hit.
“He made a rash decision that literally and figuratively hurt him,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. “That’s disappointing. Life is about growth, right? And making adjustments and learning from things and dealing with things. He’s put two years of blood, sweat and, I’m sure, some tears to getting back, and his vision of getting back was him being in our clubhouse, pitching well. He’s frustrated he hasn’t been able to do it as quick as he would like. He made a decision that I’m sure he would choose to do over.”
Reyes opened the season on the Major League roster, but was optioned to the Minors on April 6 amid continuing command issues while pitching in relief. Shortly after the move, the Cardinals decided to put Reyes, who missed most of the last two seasons while recovering from arm surgeries, back on a starter’s schedule.
He threw 40 pitches in his first start for Memphis on April 20 and stretched to 46 pitches in his next. He’ll be able to continuing building that arm strength while facing hitters in Jupiter, Fla., for the next three weeks. General manager Michael Girsch confirmed that this setback does not change how the Cardinals intend to prep Reyes for a potential big league return later in the season.
“In terms of the timing of stretch out his arm, it doesn’t affect it too much,” Girsch said. “We were building him up, and we were still going to be several outings away before we’d be ready to put him in the rotation. We’ll be able to keep stretching him out. It’ll just be a little different.”
• Luke Gregerson’s run of eight consecutive scoreless appearances on his Minor League rehab assignment ended on Saturday when he allowed one run on three hits in an inning for Double-A Springfield. The Cardinals intend to have Gregerson pitch one more time before determining when he’ll return from the injured list. He has been out all season while recovering from a right shoulder impingement.
• Justin Williams, who fractured his right hand when he punched a television back in December, is also close to returning from the injured list. A calf strain recently set Williams back about a week, but Girsch estimated that the outfielder should be cleared to leave extended spring training by mid-May. He’s then likely to join the Memphis squad.
• Carlos Martinez (right shoulder cuff strain) is headed to Jupiter this week to take the next step in his throwing program. He’s expected to face hitters in a pair of live batting practice sessions, after which the Cardinals will determine if he’s ready to begin a Minor League rehab assignment.