Because of a late flight from the Dominican Republic to St. Louis last week and then a delay in COVID-19 testing results, as well as extra contact tracing steps, Martínez couldn’t be at the stadium until he was cleared from a testing standpoint. He threw a bullpen session Tuesday, and manager Mike Shildt said the earliest Martínez could face hitters will be Thursday or Friday.
Martínez spent the shutdown in the Dominican Republic, so the Cardinals weren’t able to monitor his pitching and conditioning as closely as they could for pitchers who stayed in St. Louis or Jupiter, Fla. But Shildt said that Martínez looks “strong” and sent live batting practice videos to pitching coach Mike Maddux throughout the break. The Cardinals will evaluate his workload, especially to start the season as pitchers build up, but he’s still considered in the mix for the fifth rotation spot.
“I think he more than earned the opportunity with what he showed in Spring Training,” Shildt said. “Now it’s just a little bit of the caliber and what that looks like and how we can move him forward appropriately.”
Pitching depth added
The Cardinals added their 2019 first-round Draft pick, left-hander Zack Thompson, to their Summer Camp roster at Busch Stadium on Tuesday, as well as lefty Rob Kaminsky -- the Cardinals’ 2013 first-round pick -- and righty Seth Elledge.
St. Louis wanted to add pitching depth to camp because there are five players on the roster still not available for workouts: left-handers Génesis Cabrera and Ricardo Sánchez and infielder Elehuris Montero have had positive COVID-19 tests and are in isolation until testing negative twice at least 24 hours apart. Reliever Giovanny Gallegos is in Mexico awaiting clearance to travel. Right-hander Alex Reyes is in St. Louis but has not been at Busch Stadium.
Thompson, Kaminsky and Elledge will all likely head to Double-A Springfield -- the Cardinals’ alternate training site -- when the season opens, but being added this early in camp speaks to the club’s confidence in them contributing at the Major League level if needed this year.
Mikolas passes first test in return
For the first time since a right flexor tendon strain shut him down in March, Mikolas faced hitters in a live batting practice on Tuesday. The Cardinals starter said he’s healthy for the start of the season, something that wouldn’t have happened if it had begun on March 26, and now the focus is building up to be ready for Opening Day on July 24.
Mikolas threw two innings to most of the Cardinals’ lineup and got through it under his threshold of 40 pitches. Some of his arm strength may continue to build up during the season, as the Cardinals use a more conservative approach to ramp him up after his injury. His next live batting practice, which might come in an intrasquad game, will be three innings and 50 pitches, and he wants to reach that count no matter what, even if it means throwing extra in the bullpen.
“I think just getting that first one out of the way and making sure I come back, being able to throw a bullpen and not being too sore and bouncing back,” Mikolas said. “I’ll be worried about getting those 50 pitches in when it’s time. I’ll just work in small increments and when the season starts, I’ll be where I’ll be.”
• A slew of pitchers threw live batting practice on Tuesday after Mikolas, including lefty reliever Andrew Miller and reliever Junior Fernandez, who was cleared to participate in workouts for the first time since camp opened.
• Tuesday’s workout was pushed to the evening because of the delay in COVID-19 testing results, which caused the Cardinals to cancel their workout on Monday. While Tuesday’s workout was up in the air until about two hours before the team took the field, the Cardinals were able to get their results back. President of baseball operations John Mozeliak foresees “smoother sailing” from now on.
“Ultimately, this is a logistical challenge for baseball as you can imagine,” Mozeliak said. “And a lot of this has ramped up rather quickly. And then of course we all started our camps fast. From my understanding is once we sort of get into flow, it should run very well for baseball. But there’s obviously a few speed bumps as we go.”
Because of Monday’s cancellation, the Cardinals will push back their first intrasquad game to Thursday. It was originally scheduled for Wednesday, but Shildt said he wanted to get in one more workout. Thursday’s game will be four to five innings.