ST. LOUIS -- Considering the litany of injuries that dented their roster and challenged their depth over the last calendar month, the Cardinals did well to tread water during that span, going 13-13 to remain seven games above .500 and within striking distance in the National League Central.The club returned
ST. LOUIS -- Considering the litany of injuries that dented their roster and challenged their depth over the last calendar month, the Cardinals did well to tread water during that span, going 13-13 to remain seven games above .500 and within striking distance in the National League Central.
The club returned arguably its two most important players prior to Tuesday's 7-4 loss to the Marlins, reinstating right-hander Carlos Martinez and catcher Yadier Molina from the disabled list.
In their first game back, Martinez allowed two runs in four innings, issuing five walks, while Molina went 1-for-4 with an RBI single.
The transactions sparked a flurry of corresponding moves: catcher Carson Kelly and right-hander Mike Mayers were optioned to Triple-A Memphis, infielder Greg Garcia was placed on the paternity list, the contract of right-hander Preston Guilmet was purchased from Memphis and catcher Steven Baron was designated for assignment to make room for Guilmet on the 40-man roster.
Back on the mound following a four-inning rehab start at Double-A Springfield last week, Martinez made his first start since a strained lat sent him to the disabled list May 9. The right-hander was enjoying his best season prior to the injury, going 3-2 with an NL-best 1.62 ERA over eight starts. Though St. Louis went 1-2 in the three starts Martinez missed, its rotation still ranks among the NL's most effective in a slew of major categories. Buoyed by strong runs by Miles Mikolas and Michael Wacha, Cardinals starters rank second in ERA (2.94) and fWAR (6.1) and third in innings pitched (328).
"I feel good with my arm and feel comfortable with all my pitches," Martinez said last week. "I'm ready to go."
Molina played two rehab games at Springfield this weekend to cap a recovery from a pelvic injury with traumatic hematoma suffered May 5, when a foul tip struck him in the groin. The eight-time All-Star was hitting .272/.292/.456 with six home runs in 30 games prior to the injury, which required emergency surgery.
"It was a lot of pain the first couple of weeks, I could barely walk. But after the second week I started feeling better," Molina said last week. "It's been hard for me this past month, watching the team on TV. Right now I'm feeling good, 100 percent."
By promoting Guilmet, the Cardinals honored stipulations in the Minor League deal he signed over the offseason after pitching last season in Japan. Guilmet had the opportunity to be reassigned to another club if he wasn't on the big league roster by June 1. That the Cardinals summoned him after this weekend's notification period hints at the possibility that at another organization expressed interest in the righty. The 30-year-old pitched to a 0.93 ERA across 21 appearances as Memphis' closer this spring, converting 11 of 12 save chances.
His first extended big league opportunity truncated by a hamstring strain, Kelly went 2-for-25 (.080) in 12 games after being promoted to fill in for Molina in the short-term. Instead, Francisco Pena logged a bulk of the innings behind the plate in Molina's absence, hitting .233 with two home runs and impressing the Cardinals with his receiving and game-management skills.
The Cardinals will need to make an additional roster move Thursday, when Garcia is scheduled to return from the paternity list following the birth of his first child, a girl named Olivia.
Around the horn
• Cardinals general manager Michael Girsch said injured right-hander Alex Reyes will travel to Philadelphia on Wednesday, seeking a second opinion on his strained right lat. Reyes will consult Dr. Anthony Romero, an orthopedic surgeon who has treated several Major League pitchers with lat injuries of varying degrees. The 23-year-old Reyes, the club's No. 1 prospect per MLB Pipeline, was removed from his season debut after four innings last week after experiencing a precipitous drop in velocity. It was his first start after missing all of 2017 due to Tommy John surgery. A subsequent MRI revealed a strain Girsch called "significant."
• Girsch said inactive relievers Greg Holland (right hip impingement) and Matt Bowman (blisters) could begin rehab assignments as early as this week, after both threw bullpen sessions Tuesday.
• The club had no comment after left-hander Ryan Sherriff said he underwent Tommy John surgery with a post on his Instagram account Tuesday, though a source confirmed Sherriff recently saw a surgeon. Sherriff has pitched to a 4.05 ERA across 18 appearances in St. Louis over the past two seasons.
Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz.