Reliever Norris exits with hamstring tightness

Adolis hoping for 'another chance' after baserunning flub; Weaver, Poncedeleon unlikely to play this weekend

September 28th, 2018

CHICAGO -- Manager Mike Shildt acknowledged that Cardinals reliever will likely not pitch again this regular season after having to exit Friday's 8-4 loss to the Cubs due to left hamstring tightness.

It's the latest ailment to befall Norris, who has been pitching through right hip discomfort for most of the second half and missed a series earlier this month while a callus on his right middle finger healed. He tweaked his hamstring when he slipped on the wet mound while throwing a pitch to Cubs starter , the first batter Norris faced after entering in the seventh.

"It seems to be a recurring issue," Shildt said. "It would be surprising if he pitched again the next two days based on what he's dealing with."

With the Cardinals trailing, 4-2, Norris walked Hendricks on five pitches and then surrendered an infield single to . The grounds crew was summoned to add new dirt to a soggy mound while Norris exited the field alongside a trainer.

Afterward, Shildt explained that he went to Norris instead of in that spot because the Cardinals did not have the lead. Hudson had been warming up alongside Norris.

Norris has struggled during this past month. The former closer has allowed eight runs (six earned) on seven hits and nine walks in four-plus innings. Opponents have hit .368 with a 1.519 OPS in his eight September appearances.

Adolis hoping for second chance

Too emotional to take questions from the media following his costly fall in Wednesday's 2-1 loss to the Brewers, said Friday morning that he now hopes for "another chance to score another run and make it up."

Garcia had been mostly inconspicuous since being recalled on Aug. 29. That is, until Wednesday, when he entered as an eighth-inning pinch-hitter and was seconds away from scoring the tying run when he lost his footing and fell between third base and home.

"I was just thinking [about] scoring," Garcia said, speaking through a translator. "I was running hard at that point. I just tripped. I thought I could have scored easily."

Instead, Brewers catcher tagged out him out to end the inning. Milwaukee went on to secure a sweep and its spot in the postseason. The loss dropped the Cardinals one game out of the second National League Wild Card spot.

"I feel bad," Garcia said. "I know it was a key moment of the game, and I could have scored the tying run and that happened. I feel bad."

Since the blunder, Garcia said he's felt an outpouring of support from teammates and coaches. Manager Mike Shildt was among the most intentional with his encouragement. He patted Garcia on the back in the dugout, sought him out after the game and then checked in on him Thursday.

made it a point to come over and hug Garcia after Friday's media interview ended.

"Clearly, he's hurt and he's bothered," Shildt said. "I'm just trying to encourage him to know that he gave everything that he had. He's trying to make an aggressive play, and something happened. That's what life is about. It's about how we respond as much as anything else. Nothing is guaranteed in this life, and everything isn't going to be roses. You pick yourself up, you dust yourself off and you play today."

Missing in action

Thursday's off-day offered a day of rest for everyone on the Cardinals' roster, and it positioned the club to have 14 available arms (including starter ) out of the bullpen for Friday's series opener at Wrigley Field. The plethora of options, Shildt said, will allow him to aggressively manage what is close to a must-win game.

But while they're fresh, two of those relievers -- and -- are unlikely to see action this weekend. Weaver's recent absence is related to the command problems that knocked him from the rotation mix a month ago. Poncedeleon's case, however, is a bit more perplexing.

The right-hander made a spot start on Sept. 12, when he allowed two runs on five hits while striking out seven over five innings. Poncedeleon wasn't needed in the rotation after that game, and he was subsequently earmarked for a long-relief role.

But already having a long reliever in , the Cardinals have not called on Poncedeleon since. Shildt suggested that the Cards were not keen on using him in shorter relief stints, even though each of his six relief appearances this year lasted no more than three innings. Poncedeleon's 2.84 ERA out of the bullpen is lower than all but three of the team's other relievers.

"You want him to be in a situation where he's more comfortable doing what he's doing [by pitching multiple innings] and not put him in a spot in an important game like this where he comes in and gets the seventh inning," Shildt said. "The reality is that you have a lot of moving parts. You've got [14] guys down there now. There's going to be one or two that are not involved."

Shildt noted that had been chased early in his start on Wednesday, Poncedeleon would have come in behind him. That's because Ross was unavailable. Ross was, however, ready to go on Friday, though he did not pitch.

"There are not enough innings to go around," Shildt said. "We'd like to use them all, but there's only so much room at the end."