Notes: Fowler, Gallegos close to return

September 19th, 2020

The Cardinals could get two welcome reinforcements when they head to Kansas City early next week for the final leg of this road trip. Outfielder Dexter Fowler and reliever Giovanny Gallegos might be able to join the team for the series against the Royals, in part because it’s an easy drive from St. Louis, where both are working out at Busch Stadium.

Manager Mike Shildt said that Gallegos threw an extended bullpen on Saturday, covered first base and “checked off the boxes.” Gallegos is on the 10-day injured list for a right groin strain that he sustained last week in a game against the Tigers.

Gallegos has a 3.97 ERA in 11 1/3 innings as the Cardinals' closer this season. His late arrival to Summer Camp coupled with the team's long layoff in August hasn’t allowed Gallegos to gain much traction in that closer role, but the Cardinals remain hopeful he can return strong and help the team in their final push for the postseason this coming week.

Fowler, on the injured list because of immune-suppressing medication he’s taking for a stomach ailment, has continued to work out at Busch Stadium this past week and recovered well.

‘Big Fundy’ takes a big route home
Paul Goldschmidt’s nickname -- "Big Fundy," shorthand for “big fundamental” -- was given to him for a reason. The little things the veteran first baseman does to help the Cardinals are often hidden in the box scores, not in the team's dugout. Case in point: His route from third base to home plate in the sixth inning of the Cardinals’ 7-2 win in the second game of Friday’s doubleheader.

On Tyler O’Neill’s ground ball hit to Pirates third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes with the bases loaded, Goldschmidt took off on an arcing route home -- one so marked that he ran a few feet onto the infield grass. It seemed to throw Hayes’ focus off, perhaps one reason he overthrew home for an error.

“It’s something we work on, talk about, because you can create your own baseline unless somebody’s making a play on you,” Shildt said after the game. “It’s one of the nuanced things, and Goldy’s really good at it. Any time there’s a ground ball to third, we’re going to run inside. You can get as far inside as you want, by rule. He did it, and it looked like he may have had an effect on that play. We call him the 'Big Fundy' for a reason. That’s what fundamental baseball is about, and that’s the kind of baseball we seek to play. Little things matter.”

The Cardinals' coaching staff reminds their players of those small details, Tommy Edman said Saturday, and no one is better at paying attention to those details than Goldschmidt.

“It’s pretty much expected that he’s going to be the one that’s going to be making those great plays, those sneaky good plays that end up affecting the ballgame like that,” Edman said.

Worth noting
• Daniel Ponce de Leon was optioned to the alternate training site after being named the 29th man for the doubleheader Friday. He can be recalled any time and will likely get another start before the regular season ends.

• Adam Wainwright and Carlos Martínez will pitch the first and third games in Kansas City, leaving Tuesday open. Shildt said the Cardinals have someone chosen in “heavy pencil” for that start but did not announce who it was. Johan Oviedo, who was optioned after his last start Wednesday in Milwaukee, would be on turn. Austin Gomber is another candidate.